The first large fine for breaches of the Balearic holiday rentals legislation has been issued. Airbnb has been slapped with a 300,000 euros fine for having continued to publicise properties without the necessary licence registration numbers from the tourism ministry. The website is being given a fortnight to respond and present any challenge to the fine.
The level of fine indicates that the government believes that Airbnb has committed serious infringements of the legislation, which came into effect in August last year. The website has been given repeated warnings about illegal advertising; this has, however, continued.
The Balearic legislation makes clear that any property that is advertised as a holiday rental must have a licence number which corresponds with the declaration of responsibility for a touristic activity.
Airbnb was first informed on 16 August that there was a breach of the legislation. In November, it was notified for a second time. A month later, a warning was given: fifteen days to take corrective action or a fine of between 40,001 and 400,000 euros would be issued.
On 1 February, tourism ministry inspectors confirmed that on Airbnb there were still twenty properties in Majorca that didn't meet legal requirements.
Airbnb has responded by announcing that it will appeal against the fine. A company statement says that the fine is one on "local families who share their homes and bring great benefits to Majorca and the Balearic Islands". Families, the statement continues, will lose "100 million euros" because of restrictions on holiday rentals.
The company does not deny having violated the legislation, but it believes that the law should "help to distribute the benefits of tourism among families and across the regional community as a whole" rather than these benefits being kept "in the hands of a few". The statement concludes by saying that Airbnb is willing to "continue to work with the regional government in order to develop progressive home-sharing legislation".
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