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Barcelona will ban the rental of apartments to tourists

rental of apartments at Barcelona

Barcelona, one of Spain's main vacation destinations, announced this Friday that it will ban the rental of apartments to tourists by 2028, in an unexpectedly drastic measure aimed at curbing rising housing costs and making the city more livable for residents.

The city's mayor, Jaume Collboni, reported that by November 2028, Barcelona will eliminate the licenses of the 10,101 apartments currently approved for short-term rentals.

"We are facing what we believe is Barcelona's biggest problem," Collboni stated at a municipal government event.

The boom in short-term rentals in Barcelona, the most visited Spanish city by foreign tourists, has made it unaffordable for some residents to rent an apartment, with rents increasing by 68% in the last 10 years and the cost of buying a house rising by 38%, Collboni pointed out. Access to housing has become a factor of inequality, especially for young people, he added.

National governments enjoy the economic benefits of tourism — Spain is among the three most visited countries in the world — but with local residents being pushed out of their homes in some places, gentrification and landlords' preference for lucrative tourist rentals are increasingly hot topics across Europe.

In the last decade, local governments have announced restrictions on short-term rentals in places such as the Canary Islands, Lisbon, and Berlin.

Spain's Housing Minister, Isabel Rodríguez, expressed her support for Barcelona's decision. "This is about making every effort necessary to ensure access to affordable housing," she posted on X.

The vacation rental platform Airbnb, which hosts a significant number of listings in Barcelona, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Collboni is making a mistake that will lead to increased poverty and unemployment," stated the Barcelona Association of Tourist Apartments (APARTUR) in a statement, adding that the ban would cause a rise in illegal tourist apartments.

Hotels will benefit from the measure. The opening of new hotels in the city's most popular areas was banned by a far-left party that governed Barcelona between 2015 and 2023, but Collboni indicated that he might relax that restriction.

The Barcelona hotel association declined to comment on Friday's announcement.

"Those 10,000 apartments will be used by city residents or will come onto the market for rental or sale," Collboni said about the measure.

Barcelona's local government stated in a release that it would maintain its "strong" inspection regime to detect possible illegal tourist apartments once the ban comes into effect.

In recent years, no new tourist apartments have been allowed in the city. The local government has ordered the closure of 9,700 illegal tourist apartments since 2016, and nearly 3,500 apartments have been recovered for use as primary housing for local residents, it reported.

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