The High Court’s annulment of the €300,000 fine imposed on Airbnb for advertising illegal Tourist accommodation in the Balearic Islands has generated a storm of concern and disapproval.
The ruling is confusing for property owners and holidaymakers and has been met with anger and disbelief from Environmentalists, Neighbourhood Associations and other Platforms.
Labour & Tourism Minister, Iago Negueruela, said on Tuesday, "we will appeal the ruling in favour of Airbnb, but we will abide by the Court’s decision."
The ruling opens the way for appeals from other Tourist Rental websites such as Homeaway to be granted and Department of Tourism lawyers will be reading the small print to try to make sure that doesn't happen.
"It will be analysed in depth to determine what happened and what can be done to avoid more cases," said the Ministry of Tourism.
“Tourist properties without a license or registration cannot be marketed, because it's a source of grievance for those who comply with the regulations," said Maria Gibert, Manager of Habtur. "The ruling exempts Airbnb and calls into question the General Tourism Law and there is an urgent need for legislative change. It is very clear that when legislation is made without knowing the Local, Regional, State and Community Tourism reality, this type of thing happens. This type of platform knows the legal loopholes and knows how to benefit from them.”
Jaume Garau, President of Palma XXI believes that the Government's appeal against Airbnb will be substantiated in the end.
"Europe has to regulate this Sector, because it’s here to stay, otherwise the legal vacuum will harm those who want to regulate this activity, avoid unfair competition and prevent illegal accommodation being marketed. Barcelona City Council has been dealing with the same problem, so it's urgent to change the control strategy and have the necessary evidence. It is not enough to present a screenshot from a website, the complaint must be submitted with real and verified data,” he said.
"This is not good news and the Department of Tourism should act forcefully because the Court ruling affects general interest and the Government must put an end to these illegalities with specific regulations and more inspections,” said GOB Spokesperson, Margalida Ramis. People forget that there are legal loopholes that some platforms can take advantage of for their own benefit.”
Palma Residents’ Association
Association President, Joan Forteza is demanding that “more legal security and guarantees for the law be complied with, the TSJB ruling generates insecurity because it calls the Ministry of Tourism’s legal services into question and the Government itself.”
Forteza also points out that “it's not possible to legislate in a hurry, you have to know how to do things well, which is not what happened in this regulation because Community regulations have been ignored.” He also claims that this point disqualifies the Government's legal advisers.
"It is necessary to know how to better prepare the arguments to defend the general interests of all citizens. We have always known that the platform would appeal and the TSJB has acted in accordance with Community law. It worries me what might happen from now on with other Platforms.”
“The Regional Government must know how to solve this problem, which has been generated by the court ruling in favour of Airbnb. The most negative thing about it is that it accommodates the marketing of illegal accommodation. The Government must modify the articles of the General Tourism Law to correct the mistakes that have been made,” said Jaume Adrover, spokesperson for the Environmental Group, Terraferida.
“The problem is that this type of resolution makes all those who've complied with the regulations look foolish and I insist that the Government take immediate action, because it’s a problem that affects all of the Balearic Islands,” he said.