New criteria to avoid disproportionate fines for irregular tourist letsA new measure coming into force in the coming days sets out more proportionate amounts for fines relating to illegal tourist accommodation. The measure means common criteria for fines, taking into consideration factors such as repeat offences, the number of properties managed for commercial purposes and the economic situation of the offender.
The measure is the latest step in the municipal shock plan launched in 2016 to counter unlicensed tourist flats and regulate them.
Since then, 9,077 fines have been given in accordance with the Act on Tourism in Catalonia, which considers the unauthorised commercial exploitation or promotion of tourist activities or services a serious offence.
Fines initially ranged from 30,000 to 300,000 euros. As from 2017, a change in the Catalan regulations saw this increase to between 60,001 euros and 600,000 euros, or less in cases of occasional lets or vulnerable situations.
The goal of the measure is to distinguish between multiple offenders operating with organised networks, and individuals renting out their flat occasionally to complement their income and for whom disproportionate fines pose a risk to their family economy.
Criteria for applying fines are therefore to be regulated, with fines given in recent years also to be reviewed.
While offences relating to illegal activity with an unlicenced tourist flat is still considered very serious, some cases may be considered serious and a fine of 6,001 euros applied if the following can be accredited:
- No repeat offences.
- Voluntary end to illegal activity, visible and verifiable deactivation of all rental ads on tourist accommodation platforms.
- Commercial activity with just one tourist let.
- If the flat used for the offence was the usual residence of the offender at the time of the offence.
- No other property in the city, owned or rented, besides one’s usual place of residence.
A reduction of 3,000 euros can be applied to the proposed fine providing the household income is not over twice the interprofessional minimum salary. Similarly, fines may be increased by 3,000 euros in accordance with each of the following:
- In cases of professionalised usual places of residence.
- Repeated presence of the establishment on more than one occasion, through on-site visits from the City Police or municipal inspection services, or a combination of web searches and on-site inspections.
- Existence of denouncements, complaints or other evidence demonstrating inconvenience caused to local residents.