The Balearic Government has initiated legal proceedings against AirBNB for failure to comply with the new 2017 tourist rental legislation.

The case identifies 20 representative properties in Mallorca that continue to be advertised on the AirBNB portal after repeated warnings to the website that they must comply with the legislation. 

Under the 2017 law, all properties offered for tourist short term rental must be officially licenced and display their licence number in any online advertising.   

Government Action

The Balearic Government has notified AirBNB of administrative sanction proceedings for what the new tourist letting law defines as ‘very serious infractions’.

The action cites representative examples of properties in Mallorca, however the law is applicable throughout the Balearics and so will be seen as applying equally to infractions for Ibiza.

The new tourism rental Law 8/2012 was passed on 19th July 2017 (amended by Law 6/2017 on August 1, 2017). There has been no action taken until now, despite it being widely acknowledged that sites including AirBNB have continued to advertise unlicenced properties.

The action initiated against AirBNB falls under article 106.i which states, (we have left this as a literal translation), “commercialization, advertising or facilitation through link or accommodation of reservation contents, related to tourist stays to houses located in the Balearic Islands that have not submitted the declaration responsible for the beginning of tourist activity or without stating the tourist registration number. ”

According to the regulations in force, the sanction for infringements under the defined ‘very serious’ category, will be between 40,001 and 400,000 euros. In this case, the resolution determines that it is 300,000 euros. In the event that Airbnb continues to flaut the regulations, further and increased fines may be imposed.

Warnings Issued

The Government state that, despite having been warned by the Directorate General of Tourism that it had to adapt to the changes introduced in the law, AirBNB has continued to violate tourism regulations.

In setting out their case the Government have issued a timeline of actions that have lead to the current action.

August 16, 2017

The Directorate General of Tourism sent a request to Airbnb regarding a possible regulatory non-compliance with regard to tourist stays, since, once the amendment of Law 8/2012 came into effect, “access was granted to its channel and it has been proven that it advertises tourist stays in homes located in the Balearic Islands without incorporating the tourist registration number.”

November 28, 2017

The Inspection Service of the Department of Tourist Planning and Planning checked if the AirBNB website had adapted its activity to tourism regulations, and could confirm that it continued to advertise stays without incorporating the tourist registration number .

January 8, 2018

The Directorate General of Tourism reiterated the communication of August 16th. The letter warned AirBNB that it had a period of 15 days to comply with the regulations, or the situation “could derive the imposition of an economic penalty of between 40,001 and 400,000 euros , according to the provision of Article 109.3 of the mentioned law “.

January 24, 2018

Once the 15-day period was over, the Inspection Service of the Department of Tourism Planning and Planning accessed the website again and found that it continued to violate the regulations.

February 1, 2018

The statement certifying the infringement that warrants the proceedings was issued. The statement details 20 tourist homes considered as being offered illegally according to Law 6/2017. It states that Airbnb carries out advertising “without incorporating the tourist registration number of the rooms it advertises, in such a way that articles 15 and 19 are considered infringed”. AirBNB have 15 days to present a defence.

Airbnb Response

Airbnb responded through a written statement that the fine is “A fine against local families who share their home and bring great benefits to Mallorca and the Balearic Islands.

“We share your disappointment and we will appeal this sanction,” Airbnb said, firmly believing that the laws in the Balearic Islands should “help distribute the benefits of tourism among families and the whole community, and not to keep them in the hands of few”.

Airbnb has ensured that it wants to continue working together with the Government to develop a progressive ‘home sharing’ regulation that allows ordinary people to share their spaces and strengthen the Balearic Islands.

They also stated that they have not received official notification of any fine.

The statement went on to detail their claims that “the Airbnb community generated over 500 million euros for the economy of the Balearic Islands”. They have warned that Balearic families could lose 100 million euros as a result of the new Balearic legislation on housing for tourist use.

Ibiza AirBNB Now

We ran a quick search on AirBNB to identify apartments available to rent on the Island in the coming season.

We selected Marina Botafoc, an area well known for its many unregulated apartments, asking for properties for 4 people for a week at the beginning of May.

airbnb-fine-ibizaIn the area covered by the map shown, there was no shortage of properties, 66, though it feels like a big reduction on the number that have been advertised in the past.

Under the new laws individual municipalities can impose tougher (but not less strict) rules as they feel is appropriate for their own area. In Ibiza all 5 municipalities have put a total prohibition on any licences being granted to apartments in shared buildings – meaning none of those shown in this Botafoch area could have a licence, but we checked the first page of results anyway, and confirmed that as expected none of them are showing a licence.

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