Pilar Carbonell (black jacket) at the tourism committee yesterday. | Teresa Ayuga

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Pilar Carbonell, the tourism director-general told the parliament's tourism committee yesterday that between 2012 and 2016 the ministry took legal action over 313 out of 1,124 reports of illegal holiday rentals in Majorca. She explained that each report is considered but that there can be "difficulties" in tracing and establishing illegal activity.

Salvador Aguilera of Podemos, who had requested Carbonell's appearance, said that although the current law prevents the open commercialisation of holiday rentals in apartment blocks, the "reality is that they are out of control". He insisted that action needs to be taken so that "no apartment can be commercialised".

Carbonell acknowledged that there has been something of an explosion in the number of properties but added that the issue of holiday rental was something that had preceded the current government. She explained that there are fifteen inspectors at the ministry plus two senior officials and two administrative staff. "This is what we have to count on. We would like to have more, but with the 'Montoro Law' it is not possible." The reference is to the national finance minister and restrictions on public sector employment.

The new legislation for holiday rentals will, she suggested, make the tasks of the inspectors easier. This will be through, for example, increasing fines to up to 40,000 euros, requiring registration numbers for properties to be included in adverts, and by reversing the burden of proof so that owners need to prove that they are not illegally renting their properties. This will mean that owners will have to be able to prove that rentals are in accordance with a contract required under the tenancy act.

On this last point, Josep Melià of El Pi was highly critical. It was, he said, "unconstitutional and a major scandal". "It's as if there has been a robbery and I have to prove that I wasn't the one who did it."

Álvaro Gijón of the PP, referring to the recent study by researchers at the University of the Balearic Islands into the "myths" surrounding holiday rentals and Airbnb, said that the government was unable to state how many rentals there actually are. "There is absolute confusion. It depends on the day and who speaks. Looking at what is in the new legislation, one doesn't know what the government intends doing."