If you have ever visited Spain on holiday and stayed in an apartment for the duration of your vacation, it is possible that you have been put up in an illegal tourist apartment.
It has been estimated that there are currently half a million of these apartments that are rented out temporarily to tourists when they come on holiday and which their owners are not paying any tax for.
This has been a constant complaint of Spain’s hoteliers and owners of legal tourist apartments who do pay tax.
For this reason, many regional governments have decided to increase the number of inspections they carry out and try and do something about the problem in order to appease those that are working legally.
This region probably has the greatest number of illegal apartments, most of which are contracted through the Internet. Approximately 30% of lodgings are now authorized holiday apartments, yet about 70% are not legitimate.
Nevertheless, two years ago the Government began a campaign to put things in order, but the process is incredibly slow and little headway has been made.
Notices were put up in all the town halls and businesses informing hotel and apartment owners that they had to register themselves on a list and pay a tourist tax of between 0,75 euro and 2,5 euro. Sanctions would be applied to those that didn’t register, and any website that advertised these illegal holiday apartments faced closure if caught.
After the actions of the Catalán government, now others have decided to take action. In Andalucía, a draft law is being prepared which will probably be implemented at the end of this season.
All accommodation establishments will have to register with the Tourism Board. Each one will be issued with an identification number which must appear on any publicity or promotional material.
Those that do not comply will face fines of 2,000 – 150,000 euro.
The draft copy of this new law also states that each holiday apartment must comply with some minimum requirements, including rooms with windows that open to the outside fresh air, adequate air-con systems in apartments that are rented out between April and October, a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
However, the regional government of Andalucía has also been applying sanctions already against illegal holiday let apartment owners. A close eye will be kept on the Costa del Sol in particular where it is estimated that they are 50,000 irregular establishments where the owners are not paying tax.
Madrid is also clamping down and has prepared a draft law which is likely to be passed next month. In it, it states that properties will have to be registered with the region after which they will be given a specific licence, and only can they then begin to rent out their properties. When this new regulation is passed, it is possible that letting out a single room will not be permitted and the whole property must be let out instead.
The hotel sector has pressurised the Balearic government into increasing the fines for those carrying out illegal lettings by seven times! Sanctions now oscillate between 2,000 and 150,000 euro.
This region has had a register for tourist apartments since 2009, but there are hardly any listed on there since it was not being enforced to do so.
The regional government is on a mission to uncover all illegal holiday-let apartments and is in the process of cross-referencing data with the tax office to see who is registered as a business and who isn’t.