Future Tech

Airbn-bye: Barcelona bans short-term apartment rentals for tourists

Tan KW
Publish date: Tue, 25 Jun 2024, 04:17 PM
Tan KW
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Future Tech

Tourists in the Spanish city of Barcelona will have fewer lodging options come 2028, as the city has decided to evict operators of short-term apartment rentals. 

Barcelona mayor Jaume Collboni said last week that the city planned to let all of the 10,101 tourist rental licenses granted to local landlords expire when they timed out in four years. The city hopes the move will help it deal with a years-long housing crisis exacerbated by the entry of organizations like Airbnb and Vrbo, which Collboni said had driven rents up by 68 percent in the past decade. 

Barcelona's housing office explained that the tourist rental ban wasn't being enacted as part of a new law, but was rather due to a decree law [PDF] passed by the Parliament of Catalonia in 2022 that allows officials in the region to force landlords to offer affordable housing. 

The decree law, originally passed in 2019, gives officials the right to "compulsory expropriation" of housing properties that have been "vacant without justified cause" for over two years, or those that qualify as protected housing that "is not used as a habitual and permanent residence" - namely, a short-term tourist rental. 

"We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona's largest problem," Collboni reportedly said at a government session last week. Skyrocketing rent prices and a shortage of available properties have been an issue in Barcelona for years. The city has long marketed itself as a hub for tech companies, which has also been blamed for the rise in rents.  

Barcelona's move to claw back those apartments is authorized by the decree law, the city declared, "to ensure that as many apartments as possible are used for residential and non-tourist purposes, thus increasing the city's housing stock."

"By November 2028, there will be no tourist apartments in Barcelona," city officials noted, with considerable finality. 

Both Airbnb and Vrbo, two of the top short-term rental providers, heavily market their presence in Barcelona. Given they both stand to lose considerable revenue from the city's move - not to mention the effect the decree law may have had on their rentals outside the city elsewhere in the region - it would make sense the pair would have some strong opinions. 

Neither responded to our requests for comment, and neither has released a public statement as of writing. 

That said, politicians in Spain and a local tourist rental advocacy group both argued the move is a bad one. Politicians claimed the move will infringe on private property rights, and landlord advocates say it will only lead to a boom in illegal apartment rentals. ®



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