Barcelona to ban tourist apartment rentals by 2028

real estate in spain

Barcelona, one of Spain’s top holiday destinations, has announced a bold move to prohibit apartment rentals to tourists by November 2028. The city will revoke the licenses of the 10,101 apartments currently approved for short-term rentals. Mayor Jaume Collboni stated that this drastic measure aims to combat the soaring housing costs and make the city more livable for its residents. If all goes according to plan, from 2029, tourist flats as they exist today will disappear from the city.

Impact on housing costs and inequality

The rise of short-term rentals has significantly driven up housing costs in Barcelona. Over the past decade, rents have increased by 68%, and the cost of buying a house has risen by 38%. This surge has made it challenging for residents, particularly young people, to buy a house in Spain, thereby increasing inequality. Mayor Collboni emphasized that the lack of affordable housing is Barcelona’s most pressing issue, necessitating intervention to ensure that locals can continue to live and thrive in their city.

Support and criticism for Barcelona’s short-term rental ban

The ban on tourist apartments has received both support and criticism. Spain’s Socialist housing minister, Isabel Rodriguez, has endorsed the decision, emphasizing the importance of ensuring access to affordable housing. She stated that the government must exert all necessary efforts to keep housing affordable for residents. On the other hand, the tourist apartments association, Apartur, has condemned the move, arguing that it could lead to higher poverty and unemployment rates. They also warned that the ban might result in an increase in illegal tourist apartments, worsening the problem instead of solving it.

The ban on tourist apartment rentals may pose a challenge for many people, but it could also benefit the hotel industry. The previous administration had prohibited the opening of new hotels in the city’s most popular areas. However, Mayor Collboni has indicated that this restriction might be relaxed, potentially allowing more hotels to open and accommodate the influx of tourists. This change could revitalize the hotel sector, providing an alternative to the now-banned short-term rental market. However, the local hotel association has not yet commented on the potential changes and their implications for the industry.

The government promised a strong inspection regime

The local government in Barcelona has promised to maintain a strong inspection regime to detect illegal tourist apartments in order to ensure the effectiveness of the ban. Despite these efforts, the number of visitors to the city continues to rise, showing that tourism will remain a significant economic driver. Local associations are organizing demonstrations to demand more sustainable tourism practices due to concerns about the impact of tourism on housing. A rally with the slogan “Enough! Let’s put a stop to tourism!” is planned for July 6, reflecting a growing sentiment among residents that their needs should take precedence over the demands of the tourist market.

Written by Matt Timmermans

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