Legal battle expected in Barcelona over closure of tourist apartments

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tourist apartments in Barcelona

Barcelona is once again setting the tone with ambitious measures against mass tourism. Mayor Jaume Collboni announced last week that all tourist apartments in the city would be closed by 2028. The owners of these properties are unhappy with this decision, which is backed by a decree from the regional government. Therefore, they are now threatening legal action.

The industry association Apartur, which represents the interests of tourist apartment landlords, is preparing for a legal battle. The association considers the measures a “witch hunt” and calls Collboni’s statements “irresponsible.” Apartur also warns of the economic impact of the measure, which could lead to a loss of €347 million in annual revenue for the city. They emphasise that tourist apartments make up only 0.77% of the total housing stock in Barcelona. Furthermore, they argue that housing problems are not due to tourist apartments. Chairman Enrique Alcántara views the decision as a violation of property owners’ rights, likening the decree to expropriation without compensation. The organisation is even considering taking the case to the European Court.

Critics against shifting responsibility

The decision also has political ramifications. The decree from the Generalitat, approved in November 2023, has already been challenged by the Partido Popular in the Constitutional Court. They argue that the decree is unconstitutional and violates the rights of property owners. Additionally, the consumer organisation Facua complains that the government is shifting the responsibility for rising rental prices onto tourism, while the problem is much deeper. Besides the legal challenges, Alcántara points out the complexity of the situation. Collboni’s decision to let the permits expire makes it difficult to challenge legally, leading to a prolonged and confusing legal battle, creating uncertainty for both landlords and tenants.

Removal of illegal tourist rentals

Barcelona has been fighting illegal tourist rentals for years. Since 2016, thousands of illegal advertisements have been tracked down and numerous fines have been imposed. However, this struggle is difficult because the use of these homes is constitutionally protected. Despite this, the city has achieved considerable success in reducing illegal rentals, with thousands of fines imposed and homes returned to the regular market.

Read also: Barcelona wants to limit the number of cruise ships in the port

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