Holiday booking company booking.com have come under fire for enticing Ibiza homeowners to act illegally and register their homes for tourist rental.
New legislation in the Balearic islands strictly forbids the rental of unlicensed homes to the tourist sector. The new rules were imposed in an attempt to halt the housing crisis of local people priced out of the rental market. After several years of relatively ineffectual policing of homeowners breaking the rules, the Balearics followed the example of Barcelona in making the companies who advertise the illegal rents responsible.
AirBNB is the company considered responsible for the surge in unlicensed tourist property renting, and when they didn’t comply with the Balearic government demands to cease listing unlicenced properties, they were given a huge fine of 400,000€.
It seems that booking.com are undeterred by a fine of similar severity as they have been actively marketing their services to homeowners in Ibiza Town.
In their missive to the Ibiza homeowners they offer enticements of not charging commission on the first five bookings any newly registering homeowner receives.
Under the Balearic regulations each municipality is able to decide for themselves whether to allow tourism rentals in properly licensed private apartments.
All five of Ibiza’s municipalities decided to prohibit any private letting and so whatever an owner may say, any private apartment being let as short term tourism accommodation is being let illegally. It is however legal for private Villas to obtain a tourism license.
The letter to homeowners is signed by Eric Bergaglia (director of houses and apartments), and in a report by the Diario de Ibiza it cites “business advice and customer verification mechanisms to allow owners to list their properties with confidence” also stating that “Registration is free and takes no more than fifteen minutes.”
letter flies in the face of a commitment just weeks ago by booking.com that
they would “collaborate with local administrations to fight against illegal
tourist rental”. Nobody at the company has been available for comment.