THERE are currently some 700 legally registered holiday homes for rent in the Balearics according to Government estimates and these properties will have to be submitted to a strict modernisation plan if their owners wish them to remain on the books of the Islands' Tourist Ministry. This is one of the conditions set by the Holiday Home Draft Bill to which the Bulletin's sister paper Ultima Hora has had access. There are a number of other conditions to which these holiday homes must unquestionably adhere in order to get a seal of approval from the Ministry. The draft bill states that in order to remain on the Tourist Ministry's register, the companies which develop the homes for renting to tourists must make a down payment with the Ministry of between 90'000 and 350'000 euros. The amount will vary according to the number of dwellings of this type that each developer wishes to commercialise. The legal text establishes a full section of rights and obligations, not only of the tourist developer but also of those who use the properties for holiday purposes. The document also stipulates that tour operators only make contracts with those commercial developers who have the legal seal of approval from the Ministry of Tourism. The law embodies three categories of holiday home. The “5Q” label is given to those which are considered to be of a luxury level; “4Q” refers to first class category and “3Q” is applied to all other homes available for holiday rent. The Balearic Ministry of Tourism or alternatively the individual Island Council will have the authority to award appropriate categories. In order to establish a dwelling's legality, the developer has to abide by a complicated administrative process. It is essential to have prior local authority authorization to operate in the tourist sector.
The draft bill proposes that “categorisation of terrain for change of use registration will be obligatory: from residential to touristic, for one-family homes destined to be developed for use as holiday homes”. This means that if an already existing dwelling is situated on “residential” territory it will be necessary to change the category of the land under local authority by-laws to “touristic”. The draft bill sets out the administrative procedure that has to be undertaken in order to accomplish this change of use. The text, which was agreed between the ruling Partido Popular and Union Majorca parties, includes a full section on sanctions that will be brought to bear if the developer fails to comply with the new law. In the case of very serious breaches of the law, fines will range between 15'001 and 35'000 euros and it would be possible to suspend the developer's business activities if he continued to flout the law. Buildings that were operating as holiday homes prior to 1st January, 1998 will be able to fall in with the new law as long as the structure doesn't exceed the stipulated height and that it can be verified that such a business was indeed in place as of that date. The object of this draft bill that is to become law is to bring a business activity that has been pushing the margins of legality, especially in Santanyí, Pollensa and Formentera, under one umbrella. It is estimated that there are currently some 2000 of these properties operating in this market of which only 700 are doing so legally. The law will not give accreditation to holiday home dwellings under five years old so that the construction of new homes to put straight onto the holiday lets market is out of the question.


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