24 Jun, 2024 @ 13:25
2 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: Fuming Airbnb landlords claim Barcelona’s decision to eliminate ALL tourist apartments will cause a ‘recession’ and ‘won’t fix the housing issue’

The council announced on Friday their decision to revoke all tourist apartment licences in the city

AIRBNB landlords have blasted Barcelona City Council’s plans to revoke the licences of the 10,000-plus tourist apartments that operate in the city as a ‘populist decision’ that is ‘accompanied by a lot of ignorance’. 

On Friday, Barcelona’s mayor Jaume Collboni put the city at the forefront of a nationwide backlash against mass tourism by announcing that tourist apartments will be outlawed by November 2028 in an attempt to relieve the city’s housing crisis which has seen rental prices surge by 70% in just a decade.

Protestors have argued that short-term rentals, such as tourist apartments offered by Airbnb, take up valuable housing stock and drive up prices, forcing many locals to leave the city centre for the suburbs or nearby towns.

However, the Olive Press has spoken to several Airbnb landlords who have decried the announcement as an ill-thought-out rash move that will hit the income streams of hard-working citizens and do nothing to address the root cause of the housing crisis.

Luis, general manager at Aparteasy, a property company that offers short-term rentals through Airbnb, described the move as a ‘populist decision’ which will ‘not solve the problem of housing in Barcelona as it represents only 1.1% of total housing’. 

READ MORE: Barcelona will eliminate ALL tourist apartments in 2028 following local backlash: 10,000-plus licences will expire in huge blow for platforms like Airbnb

Protestors in Barcelona had taken aim at short-term rentals, such as tourist apartments on Airbnb. Copyright: Ben Pawlowski/Olive Press

Criticising the decision, Luis said the revoking of licences would give rise to a ‘new black market’, pushing tourist expenditure towards the ‘small rich hands’ of hotel owners and operators.

He also expressed his worry that abolishing tourist apartments, which provide up to 40% of total tourist accommodation in the city, could cause a ‘recession’ with a financial hit for employees, operators, bars, restaurants, taxis, attractions and small business owners.

Francesco, who has managed over 1,200 reservations as the manager of tourist apartments, argued that the decision was ‘accompanied by a lot of ignorance of the sector’ with a misunderstanding of the ‘advantages tourist apartments bring to neighbourhoods’. 

He told the Olive Press that the majority of visitors who use Airbnb’s are families with young children who wish to live in an apartment and cook together, and the move will deprive them of choice with many being forced to eat at hotels or in restaurants.

He added: “Does the city have the right to eliminate this source of income from private citizens who have with great effort bought mortgages and/or refurbished their properties for this use?”

Over 10,000 tourist apartments, many of which operate on Airbnb, are set to have their licences revoked.

Francesco also told this newspaper that the move will impact architects, renovation companies, cleaning staff, maintenance services, taxis, internet providers, textile companies and restaurant workers, all of whom benefit from tourist apartments operating within the city.

He added that the council’s targeting of tourist apartments covers up ‘the institutions’ inability to guarantee the right to housing for its most disadvantaged citizens’.

Instead of ‘eliminating 10,000 tourist homes’, Francesco says, the council needs to mobilise a plan to build 10,000 new homes for social housing.

Announcing the move, mayor Collboni said: “More supply of housing is needed and the measures we’re presenting are to provide more supply so that the working middle class does not have to leave the city because they can’t afford housing. This measure will not change the situation from one day to the next. These problems take time. But with this measure we are marking a turning point”. 

The Olive Press approached Airbnb for comment, but received no response.

Booking.com said they are ‘analysing the news and the impact it will have internally’. 

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to ben@theolivepress.es

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