New rules are set to be introduced to regulate the private holiday rental market in Spain and bring it into line with the rest of Europe. According to the new rulings homeowners that wish to rent their residences as holiday lets will need a license to do so and they must also ensure that they declare their subsequent earnings from the rental to the tax man.
Holiday homes will need to meet a set of criteria in order to gain their licenses. These criteria will vary across Spain according to the tourism departments of each autonomous region, but certain basic features will remain common to all regions. Sufficient bed linen, for example, must be supplied in any prospective Spanish holiday let, just as all electrical appliances in the residence should be in good working order, hot water and fire safety equipment must be made available and lifts must be accessible if the accommodation is situated on the fourth floor or higher. More stringent rules will also be introduced regarding the maximum number of guests that can be accommodated by a property according to its size. Finally in all cases, ‘emergency telephone numbers must be left for the renters’, including numbers for the police, ambulance service and the property owners themselves.
The move to regulate the private holiday rental market has been welcomed most warmly by Spain’s hotel industry. As The Telegraph reports, hoteliers in Spain have long felt ‘private renters pose unfair competition in the sector’, with private holiday rental properties having previously fallen outside regulations and fiscal obligations to the detriment of the hotel industry. In fact, some commentators maintain that pressure from the hotel industry has precipitated this regulation change.
Other observers suggest that the move is ‘an attempt to limit the black market in tourist rentals’ and to make it ‘easier for authorities to detect tax evaders’. And with 2.9 billion euros (£2.44 billion) of undeclared revenue generated from the rental of private homes in 2010 and a significant proportion of that figure originating from holiday lets, it must certainly be a factor.
Regardless of the motive, however, regulating the holiday rental market can only be a good thing from the point of view of safeguarding the consumer. Certainly, if all holiday rental properties must conform to recognised standards of quality and adhere to health and safety regulations, renters will be protected more effectively than ever before when choosing to rent private accommodation in Spain.
While some damaging articles have recently appeared in the press (particularly in Britain) proclaiming that the rule changes will mean that private holiday rentals will become a thing of the past and that the sector has been dealt a ‘death blow’, in actuality the regulations will have benefits for many – not least for the consumer seeking an idyllic location in which to spend their holiday.