Tourism minister Bel Busquets said on Wednesday that Balearic holiday rentals legislation is robust and can act as an example for other regions of Spain to follow. She added that there has been no legal change to the legislation. Why was she at pains to make that point? It had to do with Spain's National Competition and Markets Commission (CNMC).
The commission, which has broadly speaking adopted a liberal attitude towards holiday rentals, has challenged regulations introduced by three Spanish cities - Bilbao, Madrid and San Sebastian. The CNMC asked the town halls in these cities to explain the reasons why they hadd placed limits on apartment holiday rentals. As far as the commission is concerned, none of the town halls has given justifiable answers.
It considers that the regulations in each case violate competition, are prejudicial to consumers, reduce options in the market, create barriers to market entry for new operators, consolidate the positions of existing accommodation operators, increase prices for tourist accommodation, and reduce investment and innovation in accommodation.
Given this "charge list", the CNMC has filed suits with the high courts in Madrid and the Basque Country, seeking legal review of the cities' regulations. Each of these cases will doubtless take some considerable time for the courts to make their pronouncements, and whichever way their decisions go, they are unlikely to be the final word. But the fact of the commission having made the legal challenges will have prompted Busquets' comments.
As cities are the current targets for the CNMC, Palma town hall might just expect some communication from the commission as well. As far as regional governments are concerned, be they the Balearics or others, the CNMC may well also turn its attention to their rules, and to the Council of Majorca's as well.
Meanwhile, owners of holiday rental properties who present false or "distorted" documentation and cannot correct inaccuracies contained in the documentation will be liable to fines from the tourism ministry. In addition, they will lose part of the fee paid to purchase rental places.
The procedure for obtaining a rentals licence starts with the request for a certificate from town halls to confirm that a property is located in a zone designated for rentals. Once this certificate is obtained, owners then pay the required amount for the rentals places into the ministry's bank account. On making this payment, they then present the DRIAT document (declaration of responsibility for a touristic activity) and other documents required by the ministry.
These documents have to be delivered to inspectors at the ministry's office for tourism regulation on the ParcBit technology park. If the inspectors discover inaccuracies that cannot be corrected, the fines will follow, as will the withholding of part of the fee.