Farmhouses in Majorca may well be offer tourist accommodation. | MDB

The new agriculture law is currently open to public consultation. One of its proposals is that farmhouses and farm properties could be used for tourist accommodation. These properties would have to be existing buildings and they would be allowed to have no more than six places, the equivalent of three bedrooms. These places, furthermore, would have to be in the main farm building.

The existing law, introduced by the Partido Popular, envisaged this form of accommodation, but a difference with the reformed legislation would be that it is linked to the tourism law. The environment and agriculture ministry has worked with the tourism ministry on the drafting of the text, which stipulates that farming would still be the principal activity. There would therefore need to be at least one person who is engaged in agricultural work all year, while the farm would need to show that it is generating a minimum level of income from farming, be it crops or livestock. This minimum is due to be set at 7,500 euros per annum. The tourist accommodation would be complementary and not the primary source of revenue, thus distinguishing it from current agrotourism properties.

All this implies that there would not be a change of use - a farmhouse would still be a farmhouse - while the type of tourism offer could be of the working variety. In other words, guests work at the farm in exchange for the accommodation.

The two ministries are looking into whether there should be a special stock of accommodation places to cover this type of offer and they are also considering the payment of the tourist tax and the price of accommodation.

The issue of places is an interesting one and it may prove to also be contentious if there were to be an increase in the overall number of tourist accommodation places. The tourism legislation introduced in the summer did of course set a limit on the number of available places.