Biel Barceló talking tough about apartment rentals yesterday.

13

Tourism minister Biel Barceló said yesterday that websites advertising apartments for tourists have fifteen days to comply with the new Balearic tourism legislation. If they don't comply with the law, which is now in force, they could face fines of between 40,000 and 400,000 euros.  

Owners can now be subject to fines of between 20,000 and 40,000 euros. The government will treat apartment rentals of less than a month as "tourist". Owners will need to show that there is a lease contract (in accordance with the national tenancy act) and that the visitor has paid a deposit. The burden of proof is to be placed on the owner to show that a visitor isn't a tourist/traveller. Otherwise, the activity will be deemed illegal.

In addition, any apartment advertised on a website considered to be for tourist accommodation purposes, e.g. Airbnb, will automatically lead to a fine. Adverts for properties on Airbnb and other sites have to include a tourism ministry registration licence number. In the case of apartments*, there are no registration numbers because it has been legally impossible to license them. The tourism ministry is said to have identified 83 websites that could be liable to fines.

Barceló, together with the tourism director general Pilar Carbonell and the ministry's technical adviser, Antoni Sansó, pointed out that in Majorca at present there are fifteen inspectors as well as three agents who deal with sanctions' procedures. Their numbers are to be swelled by five and three respectively.

With regard to tourist accommodation places (of all types), Barceló explained that there are 623,624 in the whole of the Balearics, of which 435,707 are in Majorca: 294,163 of these are hotels. These figures take account of the 42,000-plus places that are to be allocated as a result of the new legislation. The majority of these are expected to be holiday rentals. The allocation will not be firmed up until the end of the twelve-month "moratorium" on the issuing of new licences for rentals and the island councils and town halls have agreed on zones for rentals.

Moreover, 120,000 places across the Balearics are to be eliminated. These are ones (mainly hotels, it would seem) that were created as "exceptions", according to the government. The 2012 tourism law is principally blamed for this, though these exceptions also arose because of the first tourism law of 1999. The elimination will take a number of years, as licences are revoked.

Carbonell said that an inspection campaign of nine estate agencies in April found 330 apartments that were being advertised illegally. A second campaign detected only twenty. This, she suggested, was evidence of agencies having taken note of the legislation.

* Confusion can sometimes arise about apartments. There is an official category of tourist apartments (Apartamentos Turísticos) that applies to whole buildings or series of buildings. They are totally different to holiday lets in that they function in a similar way to hotels. They are rated according to "keys" rather than stars and are denoted by the letters AT.