Beginning this summer, the city of Palma, on the Spanish island of Mallorca, will bar homeowners from renting out their apartments to tourists. People who do so could face fines of up to €40,000. The deputy mayor for urban planning, Antoni Noguera, announced this measure as a way to curtail an activity that is raising the price of housing, making it unaffordable for many local residents.
Palma – shortly to enjoy a name change – joins other Spanish cities that have moved against unlicensed tourist apartments, most notably Barcelona, which last year fined accommodation sites Airbnb and Homeaway €600,000.
Announcing a move designed to improve access to affordable housing, Noguera said average rents have risen 7.5% in the last year, and that people are paying around €11 per square meter.
The move is controversial because in theory, only regional governments can legislate on this matter. But Mayor José Hila has decided not to wait around for a law that’s been promised by the government of the Balearic Islands.
Rents in Palma de Mallorca have risen 7.5% in the last year
Palma is trying to fight against the growing popularity of homesharing websites such as Airbnb, which many homeowners use to rent out their properties informally. This is forbidden by the Urban Leasing Law.
The government of the Balearics is working on legislation that will presumably regulate and allow the practice in some parts of each island. But Palma, in Mallorca, is considering a blanket ban across the city, said Noguera.
A municipal study shows there are currently 3,191 homes being used for tourist rentals. “And 90% of that is unregulated. There is not a single tourist-oriented, multi-family apartment building in Palma that holds a license,” said Noguera.
The problem of affordable rentals in Palma has been raised not only by residents but also by workers who commute to Mallorca from mainland Spain. Even the National Police union said last week that officers stationed in Mallorca and Ibiza do not stay long at their posts because they have trouble finding affordable accommodation. And the labor unions UGT and CCOO said that many workers in the hospitality industry are giving up on their summer jobs because they cannot find a place to stay.
English version by Susana Urra.