Almost a month ago, tourist rooms – those that are rented for periods of less than 31 days – in Barcelona became punishable after the City Council decided to maintain its ban . However, this interventionism of the Catalan capital contrasts with the deregulation of the metropolitan municipalities with more tourist presence , which are not taking the step for the moment to limit this type of tourist business.
The Government of the Generalitat approved in August 2020 a decree that, after years of being in limbo, set the guidelines for establishing the limits of tourist rooms , leaving room for each consistory to establish its own rules.
The decree delimited a period of one year for local entities to be able to assume this type of tourist accommodation in their municipality, time that had already elapsed, and neither Badalona, nor Sant Adrià, nor Sant Cugat, nor Gavà, nor L’Hospitalet, nor Castelldefels –Large metropolitan cities beyond Barcelona with the largest number of registered tourist apartments- have put a stop to tourist rooms.
Tourist rooms in flats become punishable in Barcelona this Friday
However, it was a margin for local executives to study the text and adapt, not a deadline. Thus, the municipalities that have not established regulations last this year may also in the future approve regulations on the uses of shared homes.
The different councils consulted explain that, for the moment, they have not detected that tourist rooms are a problem in their cities , as tourist apartments were a few years ago, that is, fully rented and not for stays, to those who already they imposed limitations through their own ordinances, thus following the trail drawn by Barcelona .
The mayor of Sant Adrià del Besòs (Barcelonès), Filo Cañete , affirms that her government does not value that, today, shared homes or tourist rooms are a problem for the city. “This does not mean that, as happens on other occasions, Barcelona does an action and this has a direct impact on the municipality because we are bordering, but of course, acting continuously based on what Barcelona does is not the most practical or logical thing either , although sometimes you have to do it ”, remarks the mayor.
However, Cañete recalls that in the ordinance to limit tourist homes, the Sant Adrià City Council already specified in 2018 that tourist flats must be rented in full and not for stays. Thus, he explains that in case of detecting specific problems with rooms for holiday rentals, the owner would be urged to, if he wants to continue renting that house, register it as a tourist apartment and rent it in full.
Hoteliers and activists advocate the ban
The Barcelona City Council explains that the decision to prohibit this type of accommodation resides in the fact that, in recent years, “there has been an increase in the number of rooms for rent for tourist uses “, going from 5,866 advertisements for renting rooms in in 2016 to 8,277 room rental ads in the Catalan capital in July 2020, according to data provided by the town hall.
In this way, from the Barcelona entity they emphasize that strictly applying the decree of the Generalitat in Barcelona would mean “an exorbitant increase in the supply of tourist accommodation throughout the city “, especially in central areas, and a consequent increase in tourist pressure in the neighborhood.
Sources from the Sindicat de Llogateres point out that the problem that has led Barcelona to ban tourist rooms “will spread wherever tourism arrives.” “The moment you get more out of renting to tourists, the model will prevail.
In fact, it is already spreading ”, they assert. On the contrary, Manel Casals , General Director of the Gremi d’Hotels de Barcelona , points out that he does not believe that Barcelona’s restrictions cause a shift in supply to nearby metropolitan municipalities: “No, I do not think it is an alternative option, because the users of this type of offers what they look for is a central and cheap stay ”.
However, the union and hoteliers do agree in demanding the prohibition of tourist rooms in the other municipalities. “We do not accept that housing is destined for tourism while there are people without houses or at risk of losing them. One of the measures that must be taken to ensure access to housing is precisely to recover tourist flats “, they remarked from the Llogateres Union.
For his part, Casals affirms that “the smartest thing” for the councils is to prohibit these shared homes because “it is the easiest way to control them ”, an opinion shared by the platform for the right to housing.
In fact, these complications are one of the main reasons that have led to the ban in Barcelona. From the consistory they point out that, to control this activity, “a great effort of municipal resources in inspection would be necessary.” In addition, they affect that it takes place in habitual and permanent homes and that this represents a “great difficulty” of inspection .
Tourist rooms in BCN, but outside of BCN
Despite the fact that the figures are not comparable with the large volume of rooms dedicated to tourist stays in the Catalan capital, as shown by a quick search on Airbnb , the main tourist accommodation platform, these last days of August it is possible to find private rooms on offer in large municipalities around Barcelona, especially in those coastal areas that have a beach area and a tourist attraction. In fact, some of these rooms are advertised as “a good stay in Barcelona” even without being exactly located in Barcelona , which is paradoxical given the recent sanctioning regulations of the big city.
In the case of Gavà (Baix Llobregat), for example, a search for a guest from this past Friday, August 27, yields results of 6 active private rooms to be able to rent soon in the municipality. Two of them are very close to the sought-after area of Gavà Mar, both less than 10 minutes from the beach by car. The price? About 70 euros per night per person still in high season.
Illegal tourist rental invades the metropolitan area due to Barcelona’s zeal
Three other Gavà rooms are located in the same location, the intersection between the neighborhoods of Àngela Roca-Can Serra Balet, Rambla-Center and the La Post Industrial Zone, less than 15 minutes from the beach by car. In them, the prices are reduced to about 40 euros per night due to its greater distance from the beach. The fourth room, if applicable, is located near c / de la Sentiu, already in the Les Bòbiles neighborhood, but also a quarter of an hour from the beach area.
For its part, the same search on Airbnb in Castelldefels (Baix Llobregat) offers a result of about thirty private rooms suitable for booking . Half of them are in the city center, around the Parc del Castell, with prices ranging between 40 and 30 euros per night depending on the dates for which the reservation is made. The rest of the rooms are distributed more scattered in the coastal enclave of the Baixllobregatense city, especially between the Baixador and Lluminetes neighborhoods, a few minutes walk from the beach.
An example: the host Jordi offers in the Paseo Marítimo de Castelldefels a “room one street from the beach” for 63 euros per night for the last days of this August 2021. And, once again, the big city becomes the best tourist claim: “Next to the bus to a direct street to Barcelona”, you can read in the description of the ad.
“I find it very difficult to regulate it and, even more, to have the capacity to control this type of action from the town councils,” warns the mayor of Sant Adrià del Besòs. On the part of the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelonès) they explain that they are pending to establish the regulations , but they comment that “the volume of work involved is very large” and that, with the pandemic and the crisis derived from it, it has stay in the background.
They reiterate that tourist rooms do not represent “a casuistry” in the city and that, since the approval of the decree, they have received “two requests that have not been processed by default.” Thus, they point out that the number of tourist apartments has dropped a lot since 2018. However, L’Hospitalet is not alien as the second most populated city in Catalonia to the tourist business of private rooms. The quick search on Airbnb resolves around fifty accommodations of this type , especially concentrated in the local neighborhoods bordering Barcelona.
The regulations that limit tourist accommodation in Gavà Mar to 5% come into force
The Gavà Town Hall is explained in terms similar to those of L’Hospitalet. The Gavanese government began to work on the regulation of housing for tourist use in 2019, when it applied a suspension for one year of the licenses and prior communications for the installation or expansion of these accommodations.
During the moratorium, they maintain that the necessary studies were prepared to “assess the impact of these activities . · In these studies, and since the Special Urban Plan came into force last June,” the existence of rooms has not been verified. tourism in the municipality, nor any request or complaint “, they defend from the council.
“Almost all of the houses for tourist use are concentrated in Gavà Mar , which registers close to 98% of registrations “, they continue. Thus, “given the typology of these accommodations and the structure and characteristics of the maritime district, the appearance of this phenomenon is not expected in the short term.” Despite this, the executive says they are pending to develop the corresponding regulation with the aim that, if it arises, “it is compatible with the coexistence and rest of the neighbors.”
The only one of the consulted councils that claims to be already working on an ordinance that regulates tourist rooms in the city is that of Castelldefels . Thus, from the City Council they explain that they are encountering two main difficulties to finish locating this model in the municipality: fitting it with the regulation that was approved in 2018 on tourist housing and, in the same line that the Sindicat de Llogateres and the Gremi d’Hotels de Barcelona, how to do control and surveillance . Even so, they point out that in Castelldefels they have not detected a “demand in relation to this type of tourist offer”. “Since the Generalitat approved it, only one query has entered,” they add.
Sant Cugat sees the model with good eyes
The Sant Cugat (Vallès Occidental) government believes that this modality will have a “very limited” effect, as it is not a very touristy municipality, despite its proximity to Barcelona. ”
We are not afraid of anything, on the contrary , we believe that it can be a good option, a possible way out for neighbors who have free rooms and few resources , that this can help them have extra income,” says Francesc Duch , deputy mayor of Urban Development, Housing, Sustainability, Public Roads and Animal Welfare of the Sant Cugat City Council. “We believe that it is a model that does not intervene in the city housing market, that it is true that it is very stressed, with very high prices,” he says.
“Airbnb said the same, but those who end up taking advantage of this type of possibility are not individuals, but large families with 15, 20 or 30 homes with which they speculate,” warn the same sources from the Sindicat de Llogateres. The Sindicat believes that tourist rooms end up functioning as tourist apartments , so they do intervene in the real estate market, and that they are one more element in the gentrification process of cities.
“On paper it sounds good, but who will control whether it is really true that the renter lives in the apartment – a condition established in the decree of the Generalitat to be able to rent these rooms – and meets the requirements”, they reiterate. “In the event of a boom , the license for this modality could be suspended and the urban study carried out. We are always on time to do it ”, they conclude from the Cugatense City Council.