Tourist hot spot to ban vacation apartments in bid to make city 'livable' again

A view of the Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona, Spain on June 19, 2024. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Barcelona officials plan to ban short-term tourist apartment rentals by 2028, mirroring policies that have bubbled up across Europe in recent years. 

"We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona's largest problem," Barcelona Mayor Jaume Collboni said at a city council event. 

Barcelona will look to eliminate all rentals by the 2028 deadline. The city will scrap all 10,101 apartment licenses approved as short-term rentals, Reuters reported. 

Collboni claimed the tourism boom has benefited the country but choked the local supply of apartments and driven up the cost of rentals for locals by around 68% in the last 10 years. And the cost of a house rose 38%, exacerbating already problematic inequality. 


However, short-term rentals in Barcelona have remained stagnant for years, remaining at around 10,000 since 2014, even as housing prices have continued to rise, according to figures from Barcelona’s City Hall

The city’s data indicates around 850,000 homes exist in Barcelona, making the 10,000 or so short-term rentals a fraction of total housing. Additionally, official tourism activity data indicates 70% of tourists stayed in traditional accommodations — a hotel, hostel or similar — last year. 

A spokesperson for Airbnb said the company didn’t have any comment on the issue but directed FOX Business to a statement from the European Holiday Homes Association, which argued a lack of short-term rentals would give rise to a hotel boom while not fixing real issues with housing. 

"Banning short-term rentals while opening the floodgates to new hotels in Barcelona will not fix housing concerns or make tourism more sustainable. It serves only to take much needed income from local families and gift it to international hotel chains," the association wrote. 

"Short-term rentals account for less than 1% of housing in Barcelona and provide much-needed income to local families, while making tourism more sustainable and less concentrated," the association continued. "The EU has already said that Barcelona’s home sharing rules are disproportionate and will not improve housing challenges, and we hope to work with the leaders on a better way forward." 

Florence, Italy, last year announced a ban on new short-term rentals, which it defines as properties that have an occupancy for less than 30 days for any single occupant. Mayor Dario Nardella last year acknowledged the law would face resistance, but he believed it was fully and legally defensible, The Associated Press reported. 


Nardella at the time argued locals had found themselves living in "apartment hotels" as the city saw the total apartments available on Airbnb surging from 6,000 to over 14,000 in just five years. The city would not vacate the 8,000 listings in the city center but would look to convert when possible. 

New York City’s short-term rental crackdown, Local Law 18, went into effect in the fall of 2023. The NYC law required hosts on Airbnb, VRBO, and other platforms to register with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, NY1 reported. 

No more than two guests may stay in a space for less than 30 days, they must have full access to the property they are living in, and the permanent resident must be present at all times. 

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