Holiday homes: Practical problems through urban bureaucracy

Everyone agrees that one of the main problems of Spain is the bureaucracy. In 2012 we reported expectantly on the regulation of the market of holiday rentals in Catalonia ( but we were already afraid of the risks caused by the proposed intervention of the municipalities.

Unfortunately, our worst predictions have now come true, as expected. Bored officials of municipalities have begun to abuse their statutorily granted powers of control, not only to charge fees that increase the cost of renting holiday villas and appartments, but also and even worse to block rentals with unnecessary  requirements which have nothing to do with the legally foreseen inspections.

According to the Decree 159/2012 of 20 November on vacation rentals and holiday homes, the holiday home rental of individuals should be encouraged through quality controls. The communities were empowered to establish a register of these accommodations and the only formal and statutory requirement to register a property in such a register was, logically, to certify its habitability in the moment when the owner wanted to offer the apartment or the house for renting.

The city officials have tried to exploit the information obtained from these communications relating to the rental activity, to examine the urban situation of the holiday homes, and now begin to threaten with penalties for possible violations of urban development. Although these violations probably existed for years without the officers had endeavored to do something about it and they have nothing to do with the activities of tourists, which the law was intended to normalize. Once again, the behavior of officials is actually stimulating the shadow economy, as has always happened in this country: they are active only when the work is easy because all the information is already on their table, but are unlikely to pursue infringement on their own initiative.

Carlos Prieto Cid – Lawyer

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