Barcelona to eliminate all tourist apartments in 2028, mayor says

Jaume Collboni says city cannot afford to see young people leaving because of high rental prices

Alyssa McMurtry  | 21.06.2024 - Update : 21.06.2024
Barcelona to eliminate all tourist apartments in 2028, mayor says


The mayor of Barcelona announced on Friday that the city will eliminate all tourist apartments by November 2028.

“We cannot have the majority of our young people forced to leave Barcelona if they want to move out (of their family’s) home,” Socialist Mayor Jaume Collboni told a news conference.

The Catalan city has granted licenses to rent out around 10,000 apartments to visitors, all of which he says will be eliminated in around four years.

He argued that rents in Barcelona have increased 70% over the last decade, forcing the city to take stronger measures and open the debate around the housing sector.

Collboni also announced that he was modifying a law passed by the city’s former Mayor Ada Colau, which required new developments of a certain size to dedicate 30% of their units to social housing.

“It’s a measure that we backed at the time, but that hasn’t reached its targets,” he said.

Under his plan, developers would still have to offer the social housing units, but not necessarily within the same building. Although, he said, they would need to be offered within the same neighborhood.

He said both measures aim to tackle “the main problem of the city and of the country — access to housing.”

Barcelona has refused to grant any new licenses for tourist apartments since 2014. However, hundreds more have applied for permission and began renting them out to visitors in legal grey areas, the Spanish daily El Pais reported.

Last January, the city fined the owners of a building in the city’s Old Town €420,000 ($460,000) for renting it out illegally on platforms like Airbnb for several years. Local councilor Albert Batlle said at the time that he hoped the fine would "serve as a warning to anyone tempted to do something similar."

Other Spanish cities, ranging from Madrid to San Sebastian to Palma de Mallorca, have also cracked down on tourist rentals.

Earlier in June, Malaga, which has granted more than 12,000 licenses, announced significant restrictions after locals complained they were being pushed out of the city center by high rents and gentrifying neighborhoods.

According to Spain’s statistics institute INE, there were more than 350,000 homes legally rented out to tourists across the country.

Meanwhile, Spain has one of the lowest rates of social housing in the EU, according to a recent European Commission report.

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