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Barcelona Plans to Ban Short-Term Rentals as Cities Rethink the Airbnb Effect

Barcelona, one of Spain’s most vibrant cities, is taking decisive action to address its housing crisis. The surge in short-term rentals, fuelled by platforms like Airbnb, has priced locals out of the market. Here’s how the city plans to tackle the issue:


The Housing Crunch

Between 2018 and 2022, rents in Barcelona skyrocketed by 36%, exacerbating the broader Spanish rental crisis. As tourists flocked to the city, the number of visitors increased from 7.4 million in 2012 to 15.6 million last year. However, this influx came at a cost: housing availability dwindled, and rental prices soared.


Barcelona’s Bold Move

In a significant blow to Airbnb and similar platforms, Barcelona’s mayor, Jaume Collboni, announced that the city will stop issuing new licenses for short-term rentals. Existing licenses won’t be renewed either. By 2029, no homes will be allowed to operate as short-term tourist accommodations. Collboni emphasized that the city cannot afford to sacrifice housing for tourism.


License Requirements

Barcelona, like other Spanish cities, mandates that properties have a tourist license before they can be listed as rentals. Currently, approximately 10,000 houses are registered as tourist rentals. The move aims to ease the housing crisis and reduce rental costs.


Critics and Challenges

Opponents argue that the ban won’t significantly impact housing availability or rental prices. Damià Calvet, an opposition politician, points out that not all 10,000 homes will return to the residential market. Some owners keep the license merely to enhance property value for potential future sales.


Broader Efforts

Barcelona’s decision follows Spain’s historic housing law passed in April 2023. The law includes rent increase caps, price limits in special zones, and an end to surprise evictions. Additionally, the government scrapped “Golden Visas” for non-EU nationals, recognizing their impact on housing supply pressures.


Conclusion

While Barcelona’s ban is a step in the right direction, critics remain sceptical. Tourist apartments represent just 0.77% of the city’s housing stock. The challenge lies in ensuring that these units transition back to long-term rentals, benefiting local residents. As Spanish cities rethink the Airbnb effect, finding a balance between tourism and housing remains a complex task.


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