Property For Members

What are Spain's plans to charge owners of empty homes more tax?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 2 Mar, 2023 Updated Thu 2 Mar 2023 08:33 CEST
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Spain to fine landlords who keep properties empty. Photo: Federico PARRA / AFP

When approved, Spain’s new housing law is likely to see some property owners being charged extra for keeping their homes empty. But will the average foreign second homeowner in Spain be affected?


After months of negotiations, Spain’s housing law or Ley de Vivienda is likely to be approved sometime within the next few months, bringing about several changes to help vulnerable people, such as the young or those with low incomes to access housing.

The law includes several points such as freezing rental prices in certain areas and prohibiting the free sale of Officially Protected Housing.

READ ALSO - EXPLAINED: Six things to know about Spain’s new housing law

One point that has caught the attention of foreign property owners is the increase in Property Tax (IBI) for homes that remain empty.


In a bid to tackle Spain's social housing shortage and fill some of the reported 3 million empty homes in Spain, local councils will have the power to implement a surcharge of up to 150 percent on the Property Tax (IBI) quota under the new legislation.

READ ALSO: How to pay less of Spain's IBI property tax

Does this mean it will affect foreigners with second homes in Spain who only use them during certain times of the year?

The answer is no, the surcharge will only be levied on homes that have been empty for more than two years without good reason, as well as for property owners with a minimum of four homes in the same municipality.

If the property has been empty for three years, the surcharge could reach 100 percent, and there could also be an additional 50 percent rise in the case of properties whose owners have two or more flats in the same municipality.

The idea is that more landlords will start renting out their empty homes to avoid the extra charges, creating more properties for rent on the market and hopefully reducing the prices.

The amount you could pay will depend on each different ayuntamiento or town hall.

IBI is a local tax which has to be paid once a year by all property owners in Spain, and it serves as a benchmark to calculate all other Spanish property-related taxes.

According to data from the General Council of Economists, in Spain the average amount of the IBI bill is €315 per year.

With this extra surcharge however, the average would rise to €788 for each empty property.

Here are some of the prices that owners of empty properties could pay in various major cities:  

Madrid: Owners would go from paying €438 on average to €1,095.

Barcelona: Owners would go from paying €397 on average to €992.

Valencia: Owners would go from paying €290 on average to €435.

Seville: Owners would go from paying €262 on average to €655.

Málaga: Owners would go from paying €244 on average to €610. 

While this law has been implemented on a national level, several regions have also tried to implement their own laws on empty housing.


From early 2023, the Valencian government has introduced an extra tax on empty homes for landlords that own more than 10 properties. This will affect properties that are not up for sale or rent and have been empty for six months or more. In this case, they will have to pay monthly fines.

Forecasts from the Ministry of Housing estimate that throughout 2023 a total of €250,000 will be collected in fines if the homes are not put on the market within a period of six months. 

Back in 2021, the Basque Country also contemplated a similar plan to introduce economic sanctions on empty properties in the region. The mere threat of these fines, however, has seen the number of empty properties in the Basque Country fall by 25 percent.  

The most recent data for 2022 shows that 11,434 apartments have remained empty continuously for at least two years. This is 3,666 less than in the previous count from 2019.

But it's not just regions implementing these rules, some town halls are doing so too.

In late 2022, the Tarragona City Council in Catalonia also opened disciplinary proceedings for the first time against owners of apartments that are always empty. Specifically, 487 files have been filed so far against landlords of "permanently" unoccupied homes. Sanctions are due to be imposed. 



The Local 2023/03/02 08:33

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