Spain’s major cities and tourist resorts have declared war on short-term rental sites
They claim that sites including Airbnb are encouraging the black economy as well as creating problems in residential areas.
Leading the way is Barcelona, which receives almost 9 million visitors annually, and is struggling to handle the sharp increase in numbers over recent years.
A month ago, Barcelona City Hall introduced a €1.3 million raft of measures to crack down on owners letting out apartments using sites like Airbnb, but without a license. The authorities set up a website and called on residents to report apartments being rented out illegally. So far, some 500 complaints have been made.
In Madrid, City Hall has tried to push through legislation requiring a minimum five-night stay in private apartments.
Andalucia also introduced a new list of regulations earlier this year.
In 2014, the regional government of Catalonia fined Airbnb, whose Spanish headquarters are in the city, along with seven other sites offering similar services. The regional government has threatened to block access to sites such as Airbnb from Catalonia if they do not comply with its rules.
At the same time, Spain’s Tax Agency is now increasingly targeting the owners of apartments who placed rental ads last year – including those on specialised websites such as Airbnb – in a crackdown on unreported income.