Alcudia, where there is one of the highest concentrations of holiday rental accommodation on the island. | Archive

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A report from the Fevitur national federation for holiday rentals states that over the second half of 2017 there was a 34.4% fall in the number of rental properties in Palma being offered on accommodation websites. This percentage equated to 1,373 properties, most of which, if not all, would have been apartments.

The author of the report, Luis Falcón, said at a presentation at the Majorca Chamber of Commerce, that the number of properties for holiday rental in Palma represented just 1.42% of all properties. He concluded, therefore, that holiday rentals are "not a determining factor" in the bullish prices of the real-estate market.

The report points to the recovery of the labour market, economic improvement and population increase as reasons for the rise in the cost of rented accommodation in general. Falcón argued that they are the cause of rents still being high, despite properties (some) having been made available for residential rather than tourist letting.

The president of Fevitur, Tolo Gomila, said that the study provides real data that can help local authorities make decisions.

According to the study, there are some 587,000 properties in the Balearics, of which 40,675 are (or were) being rented to tourists either in a legal or an "irregular" manner. The study places a percentage of 47.7% on the holiday rentals that had the necessary licence; the remaining 52.3% were being marketed illegally.

The Fevitur report comes against the background of what the Balearics holiday rentals association Habtur (formerly Aptur) has described as "contradictions" emanating from the government. These specifically have to do with what is or isn't allowable in accordance with the national Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (typically referred to as the tenancy act).

The origin of these contradictions would appear to have arisen at a meeting in Muro on 20 March. The director-general of tourism, Antoni Sansó, who is often attributed as having been the main influence in the drafting of the rentals legislation, attended a meeting with owners of holiday rental accommodation.

He was asked in particular about the so-called thirty days rule. It has been understood that any property being marketed for less than thirty days would be considered by the government to be a tourist let. Sansó replied, and his words come from a recording obtained by the Onda Cero radio station: "If you place publicity that says you are renting out an apartment, we understand that this is not publicity for tourist rentals and, therefore, can be rented to tourists."

What he had meant to say, and he clarified this later, is that the government can only take sanctions against an owner if publicity or marketing is touristic (e.g. uses terms such as tourist or holiday) and there isn't the necessary holiday rental licence. If the owner of a holiday home cannot rent out to private individuals, he went on, the Balearic tourism legislation would be challenged by the national government as it would contradict state law, i.e. the tenancy act.