It’s been a long wait but we finally have details of what property owners in Andalucía have to do to comply with the new decree 28/2016 about Spanish holiday rentals. In this overview I am concentrating on the implications for the typical overseas property owner, most of whom will be owners of coastal properties that they rent out when they are not in Spain. Others will have one or more rental investment properties and they are also covered by this decree unless they have three or more units within a 1km radius of each other; in this case they are treated more like a hotel under Decree 194/2010. Rural properties also fall outside the remit of this decree as they are already covered separately and must appear on the registry for Casas Rurales.
In 2013 the central government in Madrid devolved responsibility for legislation regulating Spanish holiday rentals of various categories to the autonomous regions, although several had already moved in the direction of more control, most notably Cataluña followed by Valencia and the Canary Islands. A resumé of the rules already in effect region-by-region can be found here.
Spain’s very powerful hotel lobby had been calling for stricter control of private Spanish holiday rentals for years, arguing for a level playing field but in part, I suspect, the demands were driven by the underlying lack of competitiveness that pervades much of the Spanish economy. The fact is, according to Ministry of Tourism figures, 65% of Spain’s overseas tourists stay in hotels, a huge market given the 2015 total of 68.1m, and many of them could stand improvement. And, in my view, there is little crossover between the two sectors; if a customer looking for the flexibility and privacy of a rented property can’t find what they are looking for in Spain they are more likely to switch to a private rental in France, Italy or Portugal than head for a Spanish hotel. Having said that I’m pretty much in favour of the proposals as I believe they will, over time, raise the bar and weed out sub-standard properties and landlords. And now I’ve seen what the requirements are I don’t think there’s much to worry the majority of owners as they are already providing most of what’s about to become law. What they will have to get used to is more administration.
First of all every property has to be registered if it is advertised for rent via travel agencies, estate agencies, printed media, rental websites, by the day, week or month. Excluded are properties let to the same tenant for periods longer than two months as these are covered by a standard rental contract under Spanish tenancy laws. Only properties sleeping less than 15 are covered by this decree, plus properties in which the owner is fully resident and lets out rooms to a maximum of 6, with a limit of 4 individuals per room.
Once registered a code will be issued and this must appear on all web pages and other media where the property is advertised. The penalties for non-compliance range from written warnings to being struck off the register and fines from €2,000 to €150,000 depending on the severity of the offence. And owners can be sure that the authorities will be trawling websites looking out for unregistered properties, so don’t delay. Unlike some other regions registration in Andalucía is free. And property owners can be certain that registration numbers will be made available to the tax authorities making it easy to check if income tax is being paid.
Apart from the blindingly obvious requirements, such as pre-arrival cleaning and provision of clean bed sheets and spare linen, some owners, particularly of older properties, may have to upgrade their heating/cooling arrangements. If the property is let between May and September the living area and all bedrooms must have air conditioning and heating is required between October and April. No free-standing appliances are allowed so it’s goodbye to those radiators on wheels and wobbly fans we are so familiar with. The obvious solution is wall-mounted split hot/cold units but I also like the slimline wall-mounted storage panels as very effective and low-cost background heating, particularly in bedrooms. Once the law is effective in May 2016 owners have 12 months to bring their properties up to standard in this respect. One issue that always concerns owners is air conditioning and heating being left on when the tenants go out so I suggest they take a look at the plastic card key system that most hotels have now, shutting lights and air con off when the card is out of the slot. I’ve seen lots of rental properties fitted with this system but if the owners prefer to use regular keys when they use the property they can do so.
Most owners already have a visitor’s book but now they must also have a complaints book and a sign informing tenants that one is available. Most owners already have an information file, with useful stuff about local facilities, maps, restaurants, points of interest and things to do and this can now be provided online which should be easier to keep complete and up to date. I’m sure many of the contents of in-house folders go walkabout over time. The nearest medical facilities, such as walk-in health centres, hospitals and pharmacies should also be noted and a first aid kit must be provided.
But it’s the extra administration that’s going to spook a lot of people, particularly if they don’t have a locally based managing agent, although in my experience most owners do, at least if they are keen to offer the best service. All guests over 16 must supply a copy of their ID card or passport and sign a registration form on arrival, which must be sent by mail, fax or email to the police or guardia civil within 24 hours and printed invoices must be presented on departure. And it’s all got to be kept on file, the rental agreement for one year and registration forms for three.
Inspections of individual properties started in 2017 and a small number have already been sanctioned for non-compliance but it’s going to take a while to get to everyone given that there are an estimated 80,000 properties, providing 400,000 beds, to be registered on the system. But one thing is certain, the days of leaving keys at the local bar and crossing fingers that no emergencies will arise are over. The private rental sector is about to get a lot more professional and not before time.
I’ve posted a more recent blog covering this issue from a more general Spanish perspective, not just Andalucía, which you can read here.