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Barcelona To Ban Tourist Apartment Rentals By 2028 To Combat Housing Crisis

Barcelona plans to ban apartment rentals to tourists by 2028 in order to address soaring housing costs in the city.

Barcelona, a prime Spanish holiday destination, announced on Friday a sweeping decision to ban apartment rentals to tourists by 2028. This move aims to address the city’s escalating housing costs and improve livability for its residents.

Jaume Collboni, the city’s leftist mayor, revealed that by November 2028, Barcelona will revoke the licenses of the 10,101 apartments currently approved for short-term rentals. “We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona’s largest problem,” Collboni stated at a city government event.

The surge in short-term rentals has significantly impacted Barcelona, Spain’s most visited city by foreign tourists. Collboni highlighted that rent prices have soared by 68% over the past decade, while the cost of purchasing a home has increased by 38%. This housing affordability crisis has particularly affected young people and has become a major driver of inequality.

While tourism provides substantial economic benefit, with Spain consistently ranking among the top three most visited countries globally, it has also led to gentrification and made local housing unaffordable. Similar measures to restrict short-term rentals have been implemented in other European locales, including Spain’s Canary Islands, Lisbon, and Berlin.

Spain’s Socialist housing minister, Isabel Rodriguez, expressed support for Barcelona’s decision. “It’s about making all the necessary efforts to guarantee access to affordable housing,” she posted on X (formerly Twitter).

However, the move has sparked controversy. APARTUR, Barcelona’s tourist apartments association, criticised the decision, arguing it would lead to increased poverty and unemployment and likely spur a rise in illegal tourist apartments. “Collboni is making a mistake that will lead to (higher) poverty and unemployment,” the association said.

Barcelona’s local government mentioned in a statement it would maintain its “strong” inspection regime to detect potential illegal tourist apartments once the ban comes into effect.

The local government has ordered the shutting of 9,700 illegal tourist apartments since 2016 and almost 3,500 apartments have been recovered to be used as primary housing for local residents.

Hotels could potentially benefit from the new policy. Although the construction of new hotels in the city’s most popular areas was banned by a far-left administration from 2015 to 2023, Collboni has indicated he might relax this restriction.

Collboni said that the 10,000 apartments affected by the ban would be redirected to serve the city’s residents or be available for rent or sale. This measure, he believes, is crucial for making Barcelona more livable and equitable. “Those 10,000 apartments will be used by the city’s residents or will go on the market for rent or sale,” Collboni said of the measure.

Melissa Enoch

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