Saturday, November 19, 2016

Rentals' Websites To Charge The Tourist Tax

The Balearic and Catalonian governments are moving closer together on various issues, such as regional financing, and they are both on the same page when it comes to holiday rentals' websites. Under the law accompanying its 2017 budget, Catalonia will introduce a clause that will make websites charge the region's tourist tax. Not only will this raise extra revenue (some 7.5 million euros to add to the around 43 million that Catalonia already raises), it will act as a further means of detecting illegal apartment rental.

In the same way, the Balearic legislation on holiday rentals will stipulate that sites such as Airbnb have to charge the tax. Moreover, they will also be obliged to only market properties which have a registration number which verifies that they are legally registered - this registration is due to be extended to apartments, under tough quality conditions, which are currently "illegal" if they are marketed for holiday/tourism purposes.

Neither the Balearics nor Catalonia will find the demand to charge the tourist tax straightforward. That's because Airbnb and other similar sites, e.g. Homeaway and Rentalia, insist that they do not offer tourist activity, and there is an association in Spain - Adigital - which presents this case. The websites are just, according to its president, "technological intermediaries between the supply and demand".

This argument is already being used in challenging proceedings against Airbnb and Homeaway in Catalonia and Valencia for illegal promotion of tourist accommodation. As they are not offering a "tourist" service as such, then how can they be flouting regulations?

Here is a further example of how definitional technicalities can let abuse slip through the net. Spain's urban leasing act (aka tenancy act) is another, as it enables flagrant abuse of rental legislation.

In Ibiza, meanwhile, there are moves being made on the understanding that the regional government is permitting (or will permit) island councils to adopt specific regulations for rentals. The town hall of Santa Eulària has announced that it is to prohibit holiday rentals in apartment buildings. The Council of Ibiza is looking at adopting an island-wide regulation that would do likewise, a key justification for doing so being the threat to "co-existence" of residents and tourists.

With holiday rentals seemingly such a significant factor in increasing the overall number of tourists, it looks likely that further fuel will be added to the saturation debate. It is anticipated that by the year end, the Balearics will have received more than 14 million tourists for the first time; in fact, well over - the number could nudge 15 million.

No comments: