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Holiday rentals in Spain: what expats should know

Alex Dunham · 16 Jan 2014, 13:38

Published: 15 Jan 2014 18:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Jan 2014 13:38 GMT+01:00

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In June 2013, Spain overhauled the rules for its booming private holiday rentals market, handing over control of the sector to each of Spain's 17 regions. 

The government said the move was about improving the quality of Spanish tourism while many saw it as a way for them to harvest more tax.

Whatever the reasons, the changes sparked plenty of confusion among Spain's expat homeowners.

In December, several UK newspapers inaccurately reported on a "ban" on home rental in Spain. Here The Local speaks to Malaga-based property expert Louise Brace about the current state of play. 

What impact did the modified holiday rentals law initially have on your holiday rentals company Spain-Holiday?

Since the law was passed, we have received hundreds of calls from clients who didn't know how the changes to LAU (Ley de Arrendamiento Urbanístico) would affect renting legislation in their region.

We took it upon ourselves to reassure them by going out to all 17 regions within Spain and finding out what changes had been or would be carried out in the coming months.

There was a great deal of confusion and panic surrounding the new requirements among our expat homeowners.

Why was there a sort of ‘mass hysteria’ among British homeowners in Spain last month?

Well, although the amended law was passed in June 2013, an article published in one of the UK’s main newspapers last December put doubts in many homeowners’ minds.

The article was by no means factual enough, nor did it take into consideration the differences between all 17 Spanish regions.

But the misinformation spread like wildfire among a number of other British papers, who ran the ‘story’ with dramatic headlines like 'Brits banned from renting their homes in Spain'.

We felt it was our duty to set the record straight and make the distinction between fact and fiction in a detailed piece on our home rental blog RentalBuzz.

So could you tell us in a nutshell what the new home rental law actually involves?

There are four main points: a licence fee, holiday home insurance, safety/standards regulations and declarations of earnings.

Every region in Spain has different requirements at present and not all regions have introduced changes as yet.

We offer a more detailed breakdown on our site with information about Asturias, Balearic Islands, Valencia, Canary Islands and Catalonia.

We're keeping close contact with all the regional governments so as soon as we have concrete information on their rental laws, we publish it online.

There's also making sure you check at your local town hall (ayuntamiento) to find out the latest where you live.

What is the general opinion of this new law? Is it seen as too restrictive or is it justifiable?

It’s too early to determine what everybody thinks of it, as in some regions it hasn't even gone into force.

Our view at Spain-Holiday is that it will be good for homeowners in the long run. The Spanish government is essentially looking to make the sector more professional and similar legislation is already in place in countries like the UK.

Property owners have to get used to it, but I think that within a couple of years, once the dust has settled, it will become a run-of-the mill procedure.

Keeping in mind all the legal muddles and delays between the different Spanish regions, what could Spain’s government have done better?

They could have provided each autonomous region with a clear set of guidelines before handing over responsibility for the new law’s implementation.

Some local governments may be short-staffed, have few financial means or simply no experience with this kind of bureaucratic process.

How has Spain-Holiday adapted its website to cater to these legal changes?

Story continues below…

Aside from an in-depth analysis of every aspect of the new legal requirements being covered in our RentalBuzz blog, we've also introduced a small module that ensures homeowners introduce their license number if their property is in a region where the law is already in place.

Expats in Spain have been told to take care to avoid dodgy operators when obtaining new home energy efficiency certificates for their properties. Have you received any complaints about this?

Not as yet. In fact, it’s important that homeowners find out beforehand if their regional governments even require an Energy Performance Certificate.

Also, if your home was built post-2007 or you rent out your property for less than four months per year, you won't necessarily need one.

It's worth reading an in-depth article on energy certificates we have on our site just to find out whether you require one or not.

So six months on from Spain’s controversial new home rentals law being passed, how is business for Spain-Holiday?

To be honest, we are busier than ever at the moment, much more so than last year.

Why do you think that is?

I think many of those who are homeowners in Spain see holiday rental as a legitimate and successful way of cashing in during these difficult financial times — even more so now that the sector has become more regularized. 

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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