Spanish Government advocates limiting tourist accommodation in stressed areas

  • Canarian Weekly
  • 11-04-2024
  • National
  • Photo Credit: CA
Spanish Government advocates limiting tourist accommodation in stressed areas

In a bid to alleviate pressure on the housing market and ensure access to affordable housing, the Spanish Minister of Housing and Urban Agenda, Isabel Rodríguez, has voiced support for limiting tourist accommodation in stressed regions such as the Canary Islands. Rodríguez, along with the Minister of Industry and Tourism, Jordi Hereu, intends to convene meetings with the different regional governments to address this pressing issue.

Expressing concerns over the impact of tourist holiday rentals of residential properties, Rodríguez emphasised the need to respect regional powers while taking decisive action. She said that the aim is not to transform urban centres into mere tourist attractions, but to preserve their integrity as liveable towns and cities.

Acknowledging the initiatives already undertaken by regions like Catalonia, Andalusia, and the Canary Islands to address rising rental prices and lack of residential housing, Rodríguez stressed the importance of regulating tourist holiday lets to safeguard the right to housing. She highlighted the drafting of a law on holiday rentals by the coalition government in the Canary Islands as an example of proactive measures being taken.

However, there are concerns regarding the effectiveness of such regulations without adequate enforcement mechanisms. Critics argue that imposing limits without robust supervision may not yield significant results. In some areas of the Canary Islands, the proportion of tourist apartments already exceeds 20%, raising questions about the feasibility of enforcement measures.

Rodríguez emphasised the necessity of tailored regulations that account for regional diversity and hinted at potential interventions informed by European precedents. Notably, the Court of Justice of the European Union has recognised the need to address issues surrounding tourist accommodations.

Addressing accusations of electoral manoeuvring by the government, Rodríguez denied any electoralism in housing policies, emphasising the long-term commitment to tackling housing challenges. She called for a collaborative effort among stakeholders to find sustainable solutions, despite conflicting interests.

As Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez prepares to meet with representatives from the financial and real estate sectors, Rodríguez stressed the urgency of addressing the housing crisis, describing it as a national emergency. She expressed confidence in garnering support from both public and private sectors to implement effective measures.

In light of the ongoing debate over the "golden visa" program, Rodríguez reiterated the government's intent to abolish it, citing its limited impact on addressing housing issues. She noted that while the program accounts for a significant portion of real estate transactions, its elimination alone will not resolve Spain's housing challenges.

Meanwhile, in the Canary Islands, the regional government has deferred decisions on declaring stressed zones to municipal authorities (local councils). Despite calls from several municipalities to designate areas as stressed, the regional government remains sceptical of the effectiveness of such declarations under existing housing laws.

With divergent approaches between regional and central governments, the debate over housing policies in Spain continues, highlighting the complexity of addressing housing affordability and accessibility issues nationwide.