High pressure from tourism on residential rental market in Spain demonstrated

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rental market

In recent weeks, the debate over the housing rental market has intensified, spurred by large-scale protests in different Spanish cities like Málaga on June 29th. Thousands of residents were demanding better access to housing and more stringent regulations on the proliferation of tourist apartments in their cities.

A recent report reveals that shifting tourist apartments to long-term residential rentals could significantly boost the availability of traditional rental housing. Specifically, the conversion could increase the supply by over 24% in central Madrid, 20.9% in Málaga, and more than 10% in certain districts of Barcelona and San Sebastián. The report is from the Rental Observatory of the Fundación Alquiler Seguro and the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and based on data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) and Airbnb.

Regional impact

In Madrid, converting tourist rentals to residential use would lead to a 5% average increase in available rental properties. The Centro district seeing the highest potential rise at 24.3%. Other notable increases would occur in the Salamanca (6.9%), Chamberí (6%), Retiro (5.5%), Arganzuela (4.9%), and Tetuán (4.5%) districts. However, in many areas, the increase would be less than 1%.

In Málaga, the potential increase in residential rentals stands at approximately 21%. For San Sebastián, the increase is projected at 10.8%, Valencia at nearly 10%, Las Palmas at 9.7%, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Bilbao at 6%, and Palma at 4.6%. In Barcelona, the overall increase would be 5.3%, but in districts like Ciutat Vella and Eixample, it could reach 10.6% and 9.5%, respectively. Other districts such as Nou Barris and Sant Andreu would see less than a 1% increase.

Limitations and recommendations

While the conversion of tourist rentals to residential use could boost housing availability, the report cautions that this alone will not resolve the housing access issue in major cities. The impact of tourist rentals is highly uneven, with a greater presence in coastal and urban centre areas, but minimal relevance in residential and peripheral zones. The Observatory suggests regulating the market without direct intervention to avoid further diminishing the rental supply.

Tourist rental hotspots

Madrid leads with the highest number of tourist rentals, exceeding 17,000, with the Centro district accounting for 8,363 of these. In contrast, districts like Vicálvaro, Moratalaz, Vallecas, and Barajas have minimal tourist rental presence. Tourist rentals comprise 32% of the rental market in Madrid’s Centro district but only 1.1% of the total housing market in the city.

In Málaga, Airbnb lists 7,783 tourist rentals, accounting for nearly 3% of the total housing stock, with a significant 26.5% impact on the residential rental market. This makes Málaga the municipality with the lowest offer of residential rentals among those analysed.

Also read: Skyrocketing house prices in Málaga: 57 percent increase in ten years

Barcelona ranks second in terms of tourist rentals on Airbnb, with 11,074 properties. The highest concentration is found in Ciutat Vella (4.2%) and Eixample (2.96%), where tourist rentals make up more than 10% of the residential market.

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