The initial explosion of holiday rentals is said to have been in the 1990s. | Archive


It is sometimes said that holiday rentals in Mallorca really started to take off in the 1990s when hotels in Cala Sant Vicenç were faced with situations of overbooking and therefore came to agreements with villa owners because of a lack of beds.

Maybe so, but elsewhere in Pollensa - the port specifically - holiday rental had been a fact of the tourism market for years. Unregulated, it was 1984 when the first government of the newly autonomous region of the Balearics introduced the first legislation.

Ever since, regional governments have adopted their own rules. In the Balearics, the most intensive period of regulatory activity has been since 2012, and a researcher at the University of the Balearic Islands argues that in certain regards this has gone too far.

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Joan Andreu Ferrer has undertaken a comprehensive study of the legal regime of housing for tourist use. On the principle of a right to property, he concludes that the Balearic government has overstepped the mark by regulating beyond its regional powers. For him, a key aspect of this has been the establishment of time limits on holiday rental contracts. He argues that this invades state powers.

"The regional government can regulate administrative aspects for licences and minimum standards of accommodation, but it cannot legislate on the purpose and duration of rental contracts. It has gone too far in some cases. Although the Balearic regulations have to date not been challenged by the Spanish government, it is something that could happen."

In a way he is highlighting what is a messy situation with regard to holiday rental regulation in Spain. It has been left to regions to apply their own rules, but there have been calls for national legislation in order to create harmony. The counter argument is that regions have different circumstances and are best positioned to legislate.