The holiday rentals zoning just seems to get more confusing. | Toni Escobar

On the map for holiday rentals zoning that the Council of Majorca presented in January, most of the island was coloured either green or yellow. The green, predominantly in the Tramuntana Mountains, represents "protected rustic land". The yellow is for "common rustic land". Most of Majorca, with the exception of the Tramuntana, is dominated by the yellow.

The Council's intention was to permit holiday rentals on this land, subject to certain limitations. For stand-alone properties, there were to be no restrictions; rentals could be 365 days a year. Apartments were to be subject to the sixty-day rule: a maximum of sixty days per annum in an owner's main place of residence.

The zoning plan was always going to have to be run by the Balearic Environment Commission, a government body which is headed - as is the environment ministry - by Més. A technical sub-committee of this commission has in broad terms accepted the zoning. However, where common rustic land is concerned, greater restrictions appear to be on the cards.

The commission, it would appear, has proposed that there be no holiday rentals on this land. This would give it the same status as the protected rustic land. The Council of Majorca has responded by making suggestions which are as yet unknown. This is because it has not published its PIAT, plan for intervention in tourism areas, which is expected to finally be given "initial" approval next month. Regulations related to common rustic land are therefore to be set out in this plan.

Other parts of the map have been considered by the commission. The Council had proposed that the interior "saturated" places, which are now referred to as "vulnerable", could only have rentals under the 60-day rule. The commission wasn't wanting any new permissions for rentals in these places, but it seems to now accept that there will be and that the PIAT will set in stone the period of the year for these sixty days.

The Council will also be taking account of the commission's view in respect of coastal areas which the Council had not deemed to be "saturated". This applies to mostly all resorts, the exceptions being Magalluf, Palmanova, Paguera, Santa Ponsa and Llucmajor's part of Arenal*. Therefore, the Council's zoning was proposing 365 days a year rentals of any type of property. The commission has asked for a rethink as to which resorts are saturated, for which the 60-day rule applies.

It has always been understood that the zoning could be subject to change as and when the PIAT is produced. This plan is expected to indicate how many holiday rentals places (beds) there can be in any particular municipality or parts of a municipality. Because it hasn't yet appeared, the Council intends seeking a partial suspension of the granting of new rentals licences until the PIAT is approved. The moratorium on the issuing of new licences, which was a Balearic tourism ministry decision, is set to be lifted by the middle of July. The implication is that there could be a further delay in issuing licences because of this suspension.

* Llucmajor town hall has proposed that there are no apartment holiday rentals in Arenal. For Playa de Muro, not deemed to be saturated, Muro town hall has made the same proposal; it would in fact apply to the whole of the municipality.
 
** As ever, it should be stressed that the above applies to new holiday rental licence applications. Properties which were previously registered with the tourism ministry are unaffected.