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Catalonia declares war on Airbnb type rentals

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Catalonia declares war on Airbnb type rentals
Tourists relax on the beach in Barcelona. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP
08:50 CEST+02:00
Tourists face a new tax for staying in private homes in Catalonia as part of a clampdown that will see severe restrictions placed on holiday rentals.

The new norms will charge individuals 0.65 euros per night in Barcelona and 0.45 euros elsewhere in Catalonia  - including its sunny beach resorts - the regional government said in a statement on Tuesday.

It will limit such rentals to two rooms per property for a maximum of four months a year, making owners declare the activity to authorities and be present during guest stays.

The authorities said this will "regularise the supply of tourist lodgings" in the region - a magnet for foreign visitors that flock to the sunny coast and to Barcelona's monuments and bars.

Airbnb is a popular California-based website that connects householders with potential renters.

Locals in some neighbourhoods of Barcelona say crowds of drunken, rowdy tourists packed into cheap rental properties have been making their lives hell.

The city alone receives 27 million tourists a year.

A survey by Spanish hotel managers indicated that last year there were more rooms available in Airbnb-style informal rentals than in hotels and other traditional lodgings.

In Barcelona alone there more than 137,000 individual rentals, nearly double the number of hotel beds, the survey said.

Barcelona's new left-wing mayor, housing rights activist Ada Colau, has vowed to crack down on dodgy tourist rentals. She has frozen new licences for tourist lodgings.

Like the online car-hailing service Uber, Airbnb has provoked complaints of unfair competition. European Union authorities are preparing new regulations for such services.

Airbnb has agreed to similar tariffs in cities including Amsterdam, Washington DC and Chicago.

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