Legal battle in the Canary Islands over the use of tourist apartments

by Lorraine Williamson
tourist apartments

LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – The first fines for the use of tourist apartments as living spaces in certain tourist areas in the Canary Islands have led to a legal battle. Owners of these homes have now gone to court. 

They have appealed to the courts to defend the private use of their property. Under the Canary Islands Tourist Renewal and Modernisation Law introduced in 2013, they should not be allowed to use it as living space. The law requires owners to rent their properties to tourism operators, with the only exception being that they can prove that the property has been their habitual residence since before 2017. 

Six sanctions between €2,000 and €9,000 imposed 

According to the local newspaper La Provincia, the regional tourism ministry has imposed six sanctions in the past three years. The amounts range from €2,000 to €9,000. The sanctions were for six owners who used their properties as their main or secondary residence. In response, the platform representing affected owners has already started challenging these sanctions in the courts. 

Violation of the right to property 

Those affected, united in the Association of Victims of Tourism Law, argue that this situation “violates the right to property and leaves thousands of owners in the lurch”. That is why they submitted a popular initiative with more than 15,000 signatures to the Parliament of the Canary Islands in January. This petition calls for changes to the regulations to allow the mixed use of apartments in tourist areas. 

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Fight continues until European Court of Justice 

The owners are confident in a positive outcome through the administrative process. However, they warn that if they fail, they will continue their legal battle all the way to the highest authorities. In fact, they claim that if necessary, they will even go to the European Court of Justice to defend their interests. 

Nearly 39,000-holiday rental homes 

In the Canary Islands, an estimated 38,900 homes are offered as holiday rentals according to data published in a study by the Government of the Canary Islands in December 2020. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), there are 38,768 houses (February 2022). However, to know the actual numbers, it is necessary to research all rental platforms. According to such a survey of the Autonomous Community, 159,671 beds are published. An average of 4.1 beds per home. 

Read also: Will the Canary Islands also ban foreigners from buying houses? 

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