Calls have been made wanting licences that are currently unavailable. | Archive

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The tourism ministry has apparently been inundated with calls wanting information as to how properties can be "regularised" for holiday rental. These calls have been coming despite the fact that since the end of July, when the rentals' legislation was published, it has been impossible to register any property. No new licences will be given until the moratorium is lifted, which will be around July next year, after the island councils have finished their rentals' zoning procedures.

Websites that advertise holiday rentals have been informing advertisers that they must provide a ministry's registration licence (DRIAT, meaning declaration of responsibility for a touristic activity, something that applies to a range of tourism services). The ministry believes that it is this which has provoked the number of calls it has been receiving. In addition, there is the possibility of being fined.

HomeAway has more properties in the Balearics than other websites. Joseba Cortázar, the manager for southern Europe, says that there has been an email campaign to inform all owners about the legislation and that a field has been created on the website for entering the registration number. In a statement he adds: "The company is committed to legality and transparency and will scrupulously comply with the law by diligently removing content that is not in line with said legality when effective notification is received from a competent public administration as provided under Law 34/2002 on services of the information society and electronic commerce."

This statement, however, seems to confirm the stance of both HomeAway and Airbnb that they are intermediaries subject to legislation for technological processes. It was the difficulty that a Catalonian court had in distinguishing between an accommodation service and a technological process that led it to rule against the Catalonian government when it imposed a 30,000 euro fine on Airbnb.

Booking.com has sent out an email informing advertisers that they must supply the licence number by 6 September. If not, then the advert will be taken down. Airbnb has emailed advertisers and criticised the legislation for being complicated and confusing.

Websites, as has been well publicised, could face fines of up to 400,000 euros for non-compliance.

Meanwhile, all licences that have been issued over the years - for villas and houses - remain totally unaffected by the legislation. Under the holiday rentals' law their situation is unaltered.