Tourist rental showdown

PALMA: Residents fear city will be transformed.

New legislation governing holiday rentals is proposing to ban people letting out single rooms to tourists. The controversial law, still at the draft stage, also has Palma residents fearing their city will be transformed beyond recognition.  

The government has been under pressure from the hotel lobby to clamp down on tourist rentals. Hoteliers dislike people earning tax-free income on the side and the authorities are not averse to levying extra taxes. 

A new law has been a long time coming but already the draft is causing a furore. Local people who made money renting out a room or two to tourists will risk incurring huge fines. Those using accommodation platforms such as Airbnb would have to rent out the whole property to one group of tourists paying under one bill.  

However, even the mere acknowledgement that properties can be rented out to tourists has Palma’s federation of residents’ associations up in arms. Federation president Joan Forteza would like the renting out of homes in communal buildings to be expressly forbidden.  

He argues that the prospect of profiting from the lucrative tourist market will lead to investors manipulating the city’s property market. Buy-to-let landlords would snap up entire buildings, convert them into tourist-friendly apartments and rent them out at high rates. 

Local young people and families would be kicked off the property ladder and forced to move out of the city to find cheaper rents. Forteza doesn’t want Palma to become a mini-Barcelona, where locals are pushed out by landlords lured in by the prospect of making money from tourists.   

The bill is still subject to parliamentary approval, and there will surely be plenty of debate before it becomes law.

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