Barcelona plans to fix housing by banning short-term rentals

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Barcelona is going to drastic measures for its residents amid skyrocketing housing costs.

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Jaume Collboni, mayor of the tourist hot spot, announced the city will scrap the licences of more than 10,000 apartments that are currently approved as short-term rentals in order to make the city livable for locals again, Reuters reported.

“We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona’s largest problem,” Collboni said at a city government event.

The boom in Barcelona’s short-term rentals means some residents cannot afford an apartment after rents increased 68% in the past 10 years and the cost of buying a house rose by 38%, Collboni said, according to the news agency, adding that access to housing has become a driver of inequality, particularly for young people.

Despite the numbers, short-term rentals in the city have stayed virtually the same 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.

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There are about 850,000 homes in Barcelona, so the 10,101 short-term rentals account for only a fraction of the city’s stock of housing.

Official tourism activity data indicates 70% of tourists stayed in traditional accommodations — a hotel or hostel, for example — last year.

Tourists walk up and down Las Ramblas alley in Barcelona on April 13, 2024.
Tourists walk up and down Las Ramblas alley in Barcelona on April 13, 2024. (Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images) Photo by Pau Barrena/AFP /Getty Images

Spain’s Socialist housing minister, Isabel Rodriguez, took to X to say she supported Barcelona’s decision.

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

However, the city’s tourist apartments association, APARTUR, argued that the ban would trigger a rise in illegal tourist apartments as well as give hotels and other traditional accommodations a boom while not fixing the housing issue.

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“Collboni is making a mistake that will lead to (higher) poverty and unemployment,” APARTUR said in a statement to Reuters.

Barcelona, Spain’s most visited city by foreign tourists, aims to eliminate all rentals by 2028.

“Those 10,000 apartments will be used by the city’s residents or will go on the market for rent or sale,” Collboni added.

Barcelona follows other European cities including Florence, Italy, which have implemented the same policies in recent years.

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