SUMMER  is coming, a time when many urbanisation dwellers suffer from holiday let overload as tourists take over their pools and gardens.

But not any more. Under a new law passed in December 2018 (Real Decreto Ley 21/2018), voting by community owners no longer requires unanimity, but merely a majority, to ban holiday rentals within a community.

Prior to this, the vote indeed had to be unanimous.

According to local lawyer, Adolfo Martos Gross, ‘a favourable vote of three fifths of the total of the owners who, in turn, represent three fifths of the participation quotas’ is needed to approve a ban on holiday rentals, regulated by the Andalucian Touristic Rentals Decree.

However, as he points out, the ruling will not apply retroactively.

In other words, the changes do not affect those properties that are already being rented out as short term lets and have a holiday rental licence in place.

Owners who purchased a property before the law was passed, will, however, be able to argue that when they bought into the community the law did not exist and therefore they should be allowed to rent the property out if they so choose – a point that is likely to cause much controversy in court.

Also, this status cannot be inherited. So while the law is pragmatic about those who are already actively and legally renting out their homes, any new owners who purchase the property from them will not automatically be able to continue renting out the house, and any community rules against it will henceforth apply to the home’s new owners.

However, it is also possible for the community to change course if a majority of homeowners votes to reinstate the practice of holiday rentals within an urbanisation – and vice versa.

Again, instead of an absolutely unanimous vote, it will require the same three-fifths majority.

A majority vote decides

The community of owners also has the power to set conditions on holiday rental activities, such as obligating the owners to pay higher community fees or a surcharge (not exceeding 20%).

Adolfo also points out that while this reform was long awaited by those communities that had complained of excessive occupation by tourists disrupting community life, caution is needed as this is a restrictive measure in terms of property rights.

Important to note also is that the 3/5 rule is not applicable to rentals falling outside the scope of the Andalucian regulation. This means any owner may still rent his apartment out as long as it is for a period of more than two months, or it is not offered on the market through the usual channels (real estate agencies, Airbnb etc.)

Ambiguities and questions

There are, however, a number of serious questions surrounding the new law that the legislators have not yet answered in detail.

For example, does the prohibition relate to the purchaser of a home that was already registered as a holiday rental property before the purchase?

Adam Neale (Columnist)

About Adam Neale (Columnist)

Adam Neale is the owner of Terra Meridiana, a real estate agency based in Estepona on the Costa del Sol covering areas such as Marbella, Estepona, Sotogrande and Benahavís. Adam has more than a decade of experience in the sales and rental markets and, as Property Insider for the Olive Press, will be providing useful advice for buyers, sellers, tenants and all those interested in living in southern Spain. You can contact Adam by phone at +34 951 318480, pay a visit to his office at 77 Calle Caridad, 29680 Estepona (Málaga) or just visit his website at www.terrameridiana.com

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