Inside one of the units. | Pilar Pellicer


Reina is 64. Originally from Cuba, she has lived in Mallorca since 2018. In August last year, she moved into a unit in the basement of a one-time hotel in the Gomila area of Palma. Supposedly a storage room, she pays 350 euros per month rent plus electricity and water for a space of less than 15 square metres. She has no rental contract, the room does not have a certificate of habitability. It is illegal, one of 73 units which a Palma police officer is renting out and for which he continues to collect the rent.

She says that if she had known it was illegal, she wouldn't have got involved. There again, at her age this is all she can aspire to. There's nothing cheaper in Palma. Reina adds that she hadn't expected to see the police officer last Saturday. He had come for the rent.

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The officer was arrested by the National Police last week. He was released on charges by a court. It hasn't been said if the Palma force has taken any disciplinary measure. Under Balearic housing ministry regulations, he could potentially be fined a minimum of 30,000 euros per violation; over two million euros for all 73 units.

Not everyone renting them has 'irregular' status in Spain. Maria used to have a decent life in an apartment in Cala Major. A scam left her on the streets. She receives benefit from the state and despite the conditions, she is grateful for a roof over her head. The majority of the tenants are in fact registered with the town hall.

In the case of the one-time hotel, which was built in 1970, it used to be that hospitality workers from the mainland were housed in the basement over the summer season. At some point, 32 storage rooms were created. When these became living accommodation has yet to be explained.