Biel Barceló with Alberto Jarabo of Podemos. | Jaume Morey

Spain's National Competition Commission (CNMC) has been showing itself to be an advocate of free markets. In the tourism sector it has called for a more liberal approach to the so-called sharing or collaborative economy, one aspect of which relates to property rentals. As part of the debate the commission has kicked off, the regional government has sent its thoughts regarding liberalisation of holiday rental regulations, with tourism minister Biel Barceló saying that the collaborative economy threatens the Balearic economic, tourist and environmental model.

The Balearic government is suggesting that the CNMC is potentially encroaching on powers that were transferred to Spain's autonomous regions in 1993. Barceló wonders why the commission appears to advocate the open marketing of holiday rentals in any location and of any type without taking account of urban planning regulations which would rule this out. "It is an especially sensitive issue in respect of tourist rentals in apartment blocks. In other types of buildings, such as detached chalets, risks are far lower."

In the document sent to the commission, the government concludes that the commission is proposing an unacceptable interference in Balearic self-government. "This could have a negative impact on the general interest because it would affect, with consequences difficult to foresee, the economic and tourist model as well as the models of urban planning, of land organisation, of the labour market and of housing availability. The regional government is obliged to exercise its own powers in regulating the marketing of holiday rentals in line with the general interest."

Barceló points out that there will be a meeting in the next couple of weeks with all interested parties in order to try and agree a framework for preventing rental tax evasion, uncontrolled rentals and the distortion of the prevailing tourist and economic model. The government is seeking to regulate as soon as possible in order to ensure maximum certainty (and legal security) for tourists who rent properties and for the non-hotel accommodation sector as a whole, regardless of any provisions under the national urban lettings act (often referred to as the tenancy act).

The growth in non-hotel accommodation supply is occurring on all of the islands, and so Barceló sees island councils and town halls holding a key role in the control of such accommodation. "It is vital that there is control in order to avoid the possibility of a massive increase in tourist places and any type of fraud."