One of the most common ways to generate passive income in Spain is to rent out housing – for a long term or daily. In the latter case, tourists usually act as tenants, and property owners handle the entire process themselves, using the popular Internet platforms Airbnb and Booking. However, the activities of these resources on Spanish territory are regulated by legislation, and almost every autonomous community has its own requirements and conditions.
Traditionally, tourists – both foreign and Spanish – most often visit Catalonia, the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Andalusia, the Valencian Community, the Balearic and Canary Islands, so this type of rental is most widespread here. However, in some regions it began to pose serious competition even to the owners of large hotels, so representatives of the hotel business began to put pressure on local authorities, and in some places they were forced to introduce additional restrictions to those that had already existed for many years.
With all the diversity of regional laws, there is a single and main provision – the presence of a tourist license, which is issued at the mayor’s office on the basis of a number of documents. The main one is a housing certificate, confirming that the property has been put into operation and is suitable for living – that is, it has all the necessary amenities: electricity, water supply, ventilation, bathroom, kitchen, furniture, etc. The cost of such a license varies between 200-500 euros, and it is valid for a certain period of time (usually 5-6 years) with the possibility of further extension.
Again, for each autonomy, and sometimes for each locality, there is its own package of documents, as well as a set of conditions, which changes, if annually, then quite often. For example, in the Balearics, where there has long been a strong shortage of available housing and high rental prices, houses and apartments were only allowed to be rented out for three summer months a year. The Barcelona authorities have even declared a real war on Airbnb and other platforms, although in August 2020 the Catalan government issued a decree implying a number of concessions for residential property owners.
Another thing is that these relaxations affected only those who permanently reside in the territory of the autonomy, and not foreign owners of “vacation” housing who do not have a residence permit in Spain. At the same time, the maximum duration of the lease agreement was limited to one month, and the number of guests simultaneously staying in the premises was limited to four, and the owner must live with them under the same roof.
In some autonomies, on the contrary, it is prohibited to rent out rooms individually or even one room, and in Galicia it is allowed to rent only detached houses, but not apartments. In Madrid, wireless internet access is a requirement and the minimum stay is five nights. The capital’s authorities planned to introduce a number of other restrictions, such as a ban on the use of shared elevators, but such an initiative was not implemented.
Of course, you can rent out housing in Spain for daily rent without a tourist license at your own risk, and there are quite a lot of such cases. However, much depends on the loyalty of local authorities, the housing management company and neighbors. It is no coincidence that a couple of years ago the central Spanish government planned to introduce a rule according to which the owner of such a property must obtain the consent of at least 3/5 of all residents of an apartment building.
The size of fines for the lack of a tourist license varies depending on the severity and scale of the offense, but the minimum in almost all autonomies is 2,000 euros. To this must be added the punishment for tax evasion, which is imposed on income from rental housing in Spain – as in the case of any other business.
Finally, the Covid-19 pandemic made serious adjustments to the existing state of affairs, due to which Airbnb and Booking began to change the existing rules and conditions. Foreign tourists from EU countries traveling to Spain are now required to ensure that they are allowed to enter the country by obtaining a certificate showing a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of their intended border crossing. In turn, owners must comply with all new sanitary and hygienic standards regarding cleaning and disinfection of premises.