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By Will Besga

It is said that over 30% of the touristic offer of the Balearics is constituted by private rentals, and it is an upward trend.
This also has the implication that many purchasers buy properties in Majorca with a view to renting them, and thus helping to pay mortgages, costs of maintenance, or even making a business out of it.
With this in mind, and given the confused and confusing Balearics Tourism Act passed in 2012, it is not surprising that any changes in the legislation or the policies of the administration are watched by many with horror.
Indeed, such law was responsible (and still is) for the confusion that it created, as it seemed to ban short term lets in flats.
 Yet this, if you recall some of my articles published in the Bulletin on this subject, is not the case, as lets done without services, without commercialising them in touristic channels and based on the Spanish Tenancy Act, can be done in any type of property (flats included) without licenses. Naturally, care must be employed to ensure that these Tenancy Act type of short term lets do not cross the line and invade the criteria that defines touristic rentals (the offering of compulsory services etc), but this is for another day.
Just this week, then, a draft of a decree which fleshes out and defines many aspects of the Tourism Act has been distributed to some players in the (touristic) industry, and I have had a chance of reading it.
The decree regulates many aspects of the industry (hotels, touristic companies, etc), but the ones that are important for our purposes here are the ones dealing with touristic rentals.
 So what are the changes, if any?
In reality, and in short, whilst there are a myriad of details, there are only a handful of relevant changes.
 So here we go with the most significant.
Touristic lets, unlike the other sort I mentioned before, require a license, and licenses, before this decree, could only be had in detached houses, semi-detached houses, and “analogous situations”.
So far so good.
The draft formally adds another category: town houses which are not detached, but which have another house to either side of it or to both sides, which sit in their own plot, and which were built before 1960.
 Now this type of housing can also engaged in touristic lets.  
Perhaps the most significant difference is that, only in regard to semi-detached properties and analogous ones (but not detached houses) there is now the requirement that, in the application for the license, there must be a statement that the constitution of the community does not ban touristic lets, and, if these statutes have not yet been approved, that your neighbour does not oppose them.
Similarly, in regard to the town houses that I have just described, there is now the requirement of presenting, together with the license application, a signed declaration from the neighbours which states that they do not oppose touristic lets.
Lastly, in order to engage in touristic lets, a company will need to out insurance  for a minimum of 300,000 euros to cover for the different possible responsibilities that may be had.
Let me recap briefly:
Detached, semis, analogous situations and certain townhouses (own plot, predating 1960) can all have licenses.
 This is actually less restrictive than before, where town houses were not contemplated.  

Semi detached houses: in the license, there must be a statement that the community rules do not ban touristic lets. If there are no rules, that your good neighbour does not oppose them.
 This, in reality, was something that had been implemented by the administration for some time and, whilst it mat seem restrictive, think about it: a community of owners implies a consensual set of relations. When these communities are built, the owners get together and work out a number of basic rules.
Declaring, therefore, that the rules of the community do not oppose, or your neighbour does not oppose your touristic lets is not a step in a different direction, but rather a continuation of the type of consensual interaction.  

Town houses: signed statement that your neighbour/neighbours do not oppose you engaging in touristic lets.  

Detached houses, naturally, do not need any kind of statement or consent from nearby neighbours and are regulated as before.
In sum: this draft provides detail to the Tourism Act, but does not change the status quo significantly.
 Nevertheless, if you are engaging in this type of rentals, it is important to be in full possession of the facts, so stay tuned for more.

Will Besga is a lawyer in Palma.