There are some 43,000 "places" available to legally registered as holiday accommodation. | Marco Torres


Matilde Asián, the new secretary-of-state for tourism, is to seek agreement from regional tourism ministers for harmonised regulation of holiday rentals across the whole of Spain. If she achieves this, it would represent a major change for the national government, which had devolved responsibility for regulation to the regions. The consequence of this devolution of powers is that different rules apply region-by-region.

Asián has recognised that market conditions are driving the need for greater regulatory coherence, and she says that a single set of regulations would be based on fairness, taxation and security: the latter of these being a reference to the absence of control and information regarding who rents properties.

At the same time as Madrid appears minded to adopt a more active role in regulation, the Balearic tourism minister Biel Barceló is calling on the national government to amend the tenancy act - Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (LAU). Barceló has said that Balearic regulation on holiday rentals faces an obstacle because of the short-term rentals that are permitted under the LAU. These are the ones which are promoted without reference to their being for holiday or tourist purposes and also without services being offered. Barceló has explained that the regional government will treat such lets as "tourist", regardless of how they might be promoted.

Having last week published the draft text of the legislation governing holiday rentals, the Balearic government is now saying that it is all negotiable, except the principle of a ceiling being placed on the number of additional places that can be legally registered as holiday rental accommodation. There are 43,000 places available in the so-called "bolsa". In Majorca it is understood that each place will cost 1,000 euros to register.

Among the lobbying now going on, the Aptur association for holiday rentals is insisting that the government's intention to allow communities of owners to decide whether or not to permit rentals would not conform to law. Barceló, who several weeks ago expressed his doubts about introducing such a provision, because he wondered about its legality, said last week that legal experts had given assurance as to legality. Aptur is also stressing the importance of the LAU. Under this, for example, no tourist tax can be charged because rental agreements are not deemed to be for tourist purposes.

The Council of Majorca, meanwhile, is drawing up its own plan for allocating holiday rentals' places. There are to be nine areas, each of which will have its own specific regulation. The main objectives will be to restrict rentals where there is a shortage of residential accommodation. In other words, areas such as parts of Calvia and the bays of Alcudia and Pollensa would be targeted for restrictions because of the impact that holiday rentals are having on local markets for accommodation.