Madrid buildings may soon ban informal vacation rentals

New rules seek to address growing trend of short-term tourist accommodation in downtown areas

Esther Sánchez

Madrid’s residential buildings may soon be able to ban the use of housing units for short-term vacation rentals, according to legislative changes announced by regional premier Cristina Cifuentes.

A building in Madrid's Principe street used mostly for vacation rentals.
A building in Madrid's Principe street used mostly for vacation rentals.

As the Spanish capital grapples with the growing phenomenon of apartment-based tourist accommodation in downtown areas – which residents say drives up rent and causes problems for locals – regional authorities are responding with regulatory changes that seek to channel the trend.

According to the draft measures, which will be posted on the Madrid regional government website on Thursday, the groups representing homeowners in condominium buildings – known as comunidades de propietarios – will be able to introduce clauses in their statutes to explicitly ban condo owners from renting out their units to short-term vacationers.

Cifuentes also opposes the idea of a “tourism tax” or a moratorium on new hotel construction

The new rules also hope to make peer-to-peer holiday rental websites subject to sanctions under regional tourism legislation when basic rules of coexistence are not met. But this requires online platforms to be designated as tourism businesses, a particularly controversial point.

Homes destined for use as tourist accommodation have to be registered on a regional roster, but this rule is largely ignored throughout Madrid. No specific figures are available as authorities have yet to conduct a reliable study on the subject.

At a press conference, Cifuentes said that her Popular Party (PP) administration does not oppose holiday rentals per se. Instead, her government wants to regulate the activity in order to improve quality for the sake of tourists and citizen safety, she said.

Barcelona has seen many protests over downtown vacation rentals.
Barcelona has seen many protests over downtown vacation rentals.Gianlucca Battista

To this end, housing units used as vacation rentals will have to take out civil responsibility insurance and have complaint forms available to customers. Regulators also want to create a special certificate that would guarantee that the housing unit has basic things like heating, cold and hot water, and sufficient energy sources.

Regional authorities have been in touch with Madrid city officials over the matter, but Cifuentes said that City Hall – currently under the rule of the leftist coalition Ahora Madrid – has “an essentially prohibitionist vision that we do not share.”

Cifuentes also said she opposes the idea of a “tourism tax” or a moratorium on new hotel construction, which some local governments are contemplating.

The regional premier insisted that the situation in Madrid is not comparable to Barcelona, where the proliferation of vacation rentals is widely perceived as a growing problem.

English version by Susana Urra.

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