Travel

Barcelona set to make major change to Airbnbs affecting all holidaymakers


Millions visit Barcelona every year (Credits: Getty Images)

Last year, 15.6 million tourists headed to Barcelona, one of the world’s most vibrant beach cities.

From the awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia and strolls along La Rambla, to beach parties and clubbing until dawn, there’s something for everyone in the Spanish hotspot.

But a major change to apartment rentals could spell disaster for holidaymakers.

By 2028, Barcelona authorities have said they will get rid of all short-term private rentals in the city, which includes cancelling the licenses of 10,101 apartments currently approved.

It means that private rentals found on the likes of Airbnb will become a thing of the past.

The drastic move is in response to rising rents in the city, meaning that locals are struggling to afford to find anywhere to live.

It’s a hugely popular destination for holidaymakers (Picture: Getty Images)

Mayor Jaume Collboni said: ‘We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona’s largest problem.’

He added: ‘Tourist flats as we conceive of them today will disappear from the city of Barcelona.’

Rents in Barcelona have surged 68% in the past 10 years, while the cost of buying a house rose by 38%.

‘Those 10,000 apartments will be used by the city’s residents or will go on the market for rent or sale,’ Mayor Collboni said.

Murals in Spain have protested against the effects of tourism (Picture: Getty)

Which other European countries are cracking down on short-term rentals?

Across Europe, many countries are either restricting or banning short-term lets.

UK

Prior to news of the General Election, the UK government unveiled plans that would mean planning permission is required to rent out a property for more than 90 days per year.

Michael Gove said this would be to ‘strike a balance between giving local people access to more affordable housing while ensuring the visitor economy continues to flourish.’

There would also be a mandatory national register for local authorities to keep track of exactly how many short-term lets are in the area.

In response, Airbnb said: ‘We recognise there are historic housing challenges facing some communities in the UK.

‘While short-term lets are not the root cause of housing challenges, we want to be a responsible partner and help make communities stronger and work hand in hand to address the challenges they face.’

Planning permission may be required to rent out properties in the UK (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Paris, France

If you’ve got a short-term let in Paris, be careful: the city has a dedicated policing unit with the sole focus of catching and fining illegal renters.

Here, owners are only allowed to rent their primary residence (that’s the place you live for at least eight months per year) for a maximum of 120 days per year. However, you can rent a single room without any time limit.

Vienna, Austria

If you rent out an apartment in the Austrian capital, you can only offer it out for a maximum of 90 days per year.

Parts of Vienna had already imposed these restrictions back in 2018, but it now applies to the whole city.

Portugal

Last year, Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced that no new licenses for holiday lets would be issued. Again, Portuguese locals were struggling to afford rental costs amid a housing crisis.

Existing licenses will also be reviewed every five years, and Airbnb owners will be given a tax break if they convert their properties into standard homes.

The only exception to the rules are in rural areas which the Prime Minister said do not have the same ‘urban pressure’.

Portuguese locals are struggling to afford housing costs (Picture: Getty Images/Westend61)

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Dutch capital has particularly strict rules. Here, Airbnb owners can only rent out their homes for a maximum of just 30 days per year.

If you go above this time frame, you need a special permit.

Italy

Short term rentals are heavily regulated in Italy.

Florence has probably had the most extreme crackdown in recent years. Here, new short-term licenses have been completely banned in the city centre.

In Rome, rules are tight too: you can only rent out your short-term let for a maximum of 60 days per year.

And, in 2023, Italy’s Tourism Ministry drafted laws which would see short-term lets curbed across the entire country.

Italian authorities have proposed nationwide rules (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Under the proposals, there would be a two-night minimum stay requirement and a new type of identification for property listings.

‘Today in Rome there are over 25,000 accommodation facilities,’ said Alessandro Massimo Nucara, general director of the national association for hotel businesses.

‘That’s the equivalent of 10,000 hotels. In order to open a hotel one has to request an infinite number of permits. But when it comes to opening what would be the equivalent of 10,000 hotels, it’s a different story as all these permits are not required.’

Can I have a party in my Airbnb accomodation?

Last year it was revealed Airbnb owners and guests across the entire site could soon be facing sanctions if they use rental properties to throw parties as part of a government drive to stamp out anti-social behaviour.

Referencing noise problems, drunken behaviour and disorderly conduct, the plan promises the creation of a new registration scheme that would provide councils with the data to identify short-term lets in the local area.

If any short-term rental property proved ‘problematic’, local officials could take action against those deemed responsible.

Hotels have much stricter rules to adhere to than private short term lets (Picture: Getty Images)

What else is Barcelona doing to curb tourism?

Earlier this year, Barcelona became the latest European holiday hotspot to introduce a heftier tourist tax.

Since April 1 2024, the city’s tourist tax – which was first introduced in 2012 – rose from €2.75 (£2.36) per night to €3.25 (£2.79) per night.

The Spanish government approved plans to increase the tax to up to €4, so there may be another increase next year.

The surcharge hike will have a knock on effect on accommodation prices.

Now that guests will have to part ways with €3.25 for the tax, a stay in a five-star hotel will now cost €6.75 (£5.79) per night when factoring in the new surcharge and the accommodation-specific tax, which adds up to €47.25 (£40.51) per person to stay for the week.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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