Every year the Tourist Authorities launch a crack down to eliminate illegal lettings of holiday flats and every year they return just like daffodils every spring. Correspondence is blooming in the Daily B almost every day.

Let me let you in on a secret. For most of the last 30 years I've been renting out holiday apartments without a license so I probably have more experience of illegal letting than most on the island. I jest - but only just. Last century (January 1984) I asked Turismo to approve some apartments I had for letting to holiday makers.

The desk clerk said I obviously didn't need any permissions to rent my own property and I could do as I liked. I asked for this in writing but you can imagine the reply when asking a bureaucrat to take a decision and do something positive. Eventually accompanied by my lawyer the official was obliged to at least stamp copies of my applications as received.

For the next 18 years I merrily rented out my uninspected/unapproved flats using the Law of Administrative Silence just like our crooked politicians. In those bygone free and easy days tourism was expanding at breakneck speeds – the cake was growing and big enough for all comers. No more, hence the scramble for a greater slice means a smaller portion for someone else. By April 2002 Turismo had reduced their paperwork backlog down to my request and I received letters of approval which amazingly and unashamedly quoted the date of my application two decades earlier.

If the truth be known it is impossible to get a license to rent a holiday flat unless it is in an Aparthotel i.e. within the monopoly of our hotel industry. The term aparthotel is not mentioned in the specification of what constitutes an approved tourist accommodation neither do the words foreign or private appear but, having allowed the hotel owners to draft the regulations/laws (provision of off street parking, swimming pool, 24 hour concierge, wheel chair access etc), rest assured anything else is prescribed. By precluding individual owners from obtaining a Tourist Board licence it precludes them to let legally and then honestly declare the income with the associated IVA.

With a shrinking economic cake there is even less chance that Joana Barcelo (Minister for Tourism) will listen to reason although holiday apartment owners are just what the doctor ordered. Second home accommodation is exactly the high spend/off season tourist business the Baleares says it wants. The owners have to buy or build their flats/houses/chalets, maintain them year round and pay rates for all 52 weeks although they don't use many of the facilities (e.g. education) and then rarely at that (just a few months per year). They subsidise us residents. They don't travel from the airport in busses of 60 people but have or hire a car. Not being “all inclusive” they probably eat out more. I could go on but in brief their spend bears no comparison to what a typical hotel bed contributes.

If the foreign owners successfully band together to circumnavigate the restrictions we can count on the mighty Hotel lobby to rejig the rules in their favour. Where are our ex-patriot councillors in all this? They proved to be impotent with ID cards perhaps they'll do better with this.

Mike Lillico
Playa de Palma