Palma centre has been proving to be especially popular for holiday rentals. | Enric Borras

The association for apartments and dwellings for seasonal rental in the Balearics, Aptur, is keeping up its pressure on the regional government. The association's full name can be simplified to one for holiday rentals, and it is the currently illegal supply of private accommodation that Aptur wants the government to regulate (by which it means legalise).

The association calculates that there are some 45,000 properties that fall into this category, most of them being apartments. It further estimates that these properties generate some 11% of GDP. Its president, Juan Estarellas, says that liberalisation of this sector is urgently required. Although it is outside the law, Estarellas argues that its proportional benefit to the Balearics is greater than that of hotels.

Estarellas also insists that while these properties remain "illegal", their owners should not have to charge and so pay the government the tourist tax. The tax, he says, applies to stays in accommodation which have tourist services. Once legalised, all owners would and should pay the tax, he adds.

He attacks the "demonisation" of rental activity by the hoteliers, pointing to the contrasting support for residential tourism from associations for retailers, restaurants, taxis, car hire and leisure. He does, nevertheless, accept that there is some "speculation" in the market and that this includes investment funds which have entered the holiday rentals sector in order to take advantage of the "exponential growth" brought about by web-based services.

Estarellas also concedes that there can be issues of "coexistence" in apartment buildings because of disrespectful behaviour by some tourists. He advocates, therefore, that residents' communities should be given the power to establish their own rules. (The regional government has questioned whether at present a community's prohibition of tourist rental would stand up in court if it were to be challenged.)

He goes on to reject the idea that residential tourism is the cause of tourist "saturation", saying that there should be improvements to roads, water supplies and public transport.

Aptur, therefore, wants immediate regulation, concluding that holiday rentals are "sustainable" in environmental, economic and social ways.

Although Aptur says that owners should not be liable to the tourist tax, the Tax Agency sees things rather differently. It has been reported that over 1,700 apartments in what are known as "plurifamiliar" buildings (basically apartment blocks) are signed up with the agency for the tax. What percentage of the actual total of "illegal" apartments this represents varies according to reports. Aptur is currently mentioning 45,000, but an alternative figure suggests there are twice as many.