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Barcelona to ban apartment rentals to tourists in bid to cut housing costs | Spain

Barcelona to ban apartment rentals to tourists in bid to cut housing costs | Spain

Barcelona, a top Spanish holiday destination, has announced it will bar apartment rentals to tourists by 2028, an unexpectedly drastic move as it seeks to rein in soaring housing costs and make the city livable for residents.

The city’s leftist mayor, Jaume Collboni, said on Friday that by November 2028, Barcelona would scrap the licences of the 10,101 apartments currently approved as short-term rentals.

“We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona’s largest problem,” Collboni told a city government event. This meant that “from 2029”, if there were no setbacks, “tourist flats as we conceive of them today will disappear from the city of Barcelona”.

The boom in short-term rentals in Barcelona, Spain’s most visited city by foreign tourists, meant some residents could not afford an apartment after rents rose 68% in the past 10 years and the cost of buying a house rose by 38%, Collboni said. Access to housing had become a driver of inequality, particularly for young people, he added.

National governments relish the economic benefits of tourism – Spain ranks among the top-three most visited countries in the world – but with local residents priced out in some places, gentrification and owner preference for lucrative tourist rentals are increasingly a hot topic across Europe.

Local governments have announced restrictions on short-term rentals in places such as Spain’s Canary Islands, Lisbon and Berlin in the past decade.

Banners reading ‘No tourist flats’ hang from a balcony in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Barceloneta. Photograph: Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images

Spain’s Socialist housing minister, Isabel Rodriguez, said she supported Barcelona’s decision.

“It’s about making all the necessary efforts to guarantee access to affordable housing,” she posted on X.

Vacation rentals platform Airbnb, which hosts a significant number of Barcelona listings, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Collboni is making a mistake that will lead to [higher] poverty and unemployment,” Barcelona’s tourist apartments association Apartur said in a statement, adding the ban would trigger a rise in illegal tourist apartments.

Hotels stand to benefit from the move. The opening of new hotels in the city’s most popular areas was banned by a far-left party governing Barcelona between 2015 and 2023, but Collboni has signalled he could relax the restriction.

Barcelona’s hotel association declined to comment on Friday’s announcement.

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