The Catalan government approved this Tuesday a new regulation of tourist housing that In practice, it will reduce their number in the municipalities where the greatest concentration occurs. and the Catalan administration considers that there is not enough supply for habitual housing. Besides, licenses will become temporaryfor a period of five renewable years.
The Catalan administration will regulate it through new urban requirements in 262 municipalitieswhich will have the limit of granting a maximum of 10 licenses for tourist homes per 100 inhabitants. At the moment There are 47 Catalan towns that exceed this proportion – concentrated on the coast and ski areas -, with a surplus of 28,000 tourist apartments (29.5% of the total housing for tourist use in the 262 affected towns).so the licenses must be distributed in a public tender, according to the new rule.
In these 262 municipalities there are a total of 95,094 tourist homes and the Government It is expected that in five years this list will be adjusted according to the new context. In all of Catalonia there are just over 102,000 apartments for tourist use registeredso only the effect of the surplus of 28,000 licenses due to being in municipalities with more than 10 per 100 inhabitants represents reduce more than 27% of the parkalthough the restrictions may be greater, depending on what each municipality regulates.
Now, owners – including those who currently have a license – must apply to their town councils for an urban planning license that will be valid for five years to be able to operate for tourist use, and local administrations must modify their Urbanistic planning to expressly include the possibility of hosting tourist apartments, justifying that they have enough land for permanent housing (and in the meantime they will not be able to grant new licenses).
This was explained at a press conference this Tuesday by the spokesperson for the GovernmentPatrícia Plaja, and the Regional Minister of the Generalitat, Ester Capella, after the Executive Council.
The new regulation has been approved by a decree law and its objective is to provide tools to municipalities where there is a problem with access to housing or there is a risk of breaking the balance of the urban environment due to an excess of tourist housing.
Capella explained that the appearance of the phenomenon of tourist apartments is one of the causes of the decrease in the number of homes that are rented as permanent accommodation and that is why they have decided to regulate the sector. In this sense, she has assured that the Government has the obligation to use its powers and adopt “urgent measures” to prevent problems “of coexistence and gentrification” from growing, reports Europa Press.
The current tourist apartments
As for the homes that are currently already intended for tourist uses, if the council does not grant them the new license within a period of five years, they must cease their activity, although the owners may request a extension of another five years if they prove that they cannot compensate for the capital losses due to investments made due to the loss of the license.
Homes that operate without permission will be violating the regulations, and the Government has assured that there will be serious sanctionsalthough it has not specified what they will be.
In this way, we move from the current declaration of responsibility that owners had to request in order to use their home for tourist use to the need for a prior planning license.
The annex to the decree includes the list of 262 municipalities where this new regulation will apply. Some 134 have problems derived from the lack of balance in the urban environment (because they have more than 5 homes for tourist use per 100 inhabitants), and the rest are cities with problems of access to housing (under the parameters of accredited demand housing and stressed market).
Of the total of 262, there are 85 municipalities that have already begun to regulate housing matters in order to limit tourist apartments, such as Barcelona -where no new licenses have been granted since 2014 and does not reach the maximum limit of 10 licenses per 100 inhabitants-and everyone must adapt to the new regulations as of the approval of the decree.
Municipalities that want to allocate part of the land for tourist use must prove to the Territory commissions that there is enough land destined for residential use through an instrument called Social Memory.
He Government considers that there is a danger of breaking the urban balance when there are more than 5 homes for tourist use per 100 inhabitantsand will allow City Councils to license up to a maximum of 10 homes per 100 inhabitants.
In order to obtain the license, homes that want to be touristic must make a communication to the administration to be registered and must have the certificate of occupancy, be furnished and the entire home must be rented, not just one room.
If in a municipality there are more tourist apartments than 10 per 100 inhabitants, it will be the City Council that will decide which owners obtain the license through a competitive competition regime.
He Government He has been working on the regulations for months and is convinced that this decree law will pass any filter of constitutionality and European law.
On the contrary, From the tourist apartment sector, they predict judicial action in the face of what they consider an “expropriation without compensation” and a regulation that is “hasty, contrary to the law and of zero effectiveness.”in the words of the president of the Association of Tourist Apartments of Barcelona (Apartur), Enrique Alcántara, who also appeared before the press as spokesperson for the Catalan Federation of Tourist Apartments (Federatur).
Alcántara called the Generalitat’s new regulation of tourist housing “irresponsible” because in his opinion it puts “50% of tourism in Catalonia as a whole” at risk (according to INE data, 18 million overnight stays out of the 30 million that occurred in Catalonia in 2022 were in tourist apartments), the jobs it generates and the indirect impact it has on commerce and restaurants.
The sector argues that its small weight in the total housing stock does not influence prices, while its activity generates some 3,000 million in direct economic impact and 25,000 jobs, with a weight of 2.94% of the Catalan tourism GDP.
He also regrets the restrictions on legal tourist apartments, while other modalities, such as seasonal apartment rentals, have no limitations.
For their part, the Real Estate Property Agents (API) of Catalonia They have warned that the principles of the decree announced by the Generalitat to regulate tourist apartments have “an ideological nature and have no place in the economic and legal reality of the country.”
They also warn in a statement that “There is no guarantee that homes that are no longer used for tourism will become long-term rentals.“.
“There are municipalities on the Generalitat’s list such as Alp, Begur, Cadaqués, Espot, Palafrugell, Pals or Salou, among others, in which it is absurd to think that the problem will be resolved with this decree,” they say.
“Given the legal instability in which we are immersed” – they affirm -, it is most likely that the majority of owners will choose to put their homes up for sale, reports Europa Press.