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Can you Airbnb your Barcelona Apartment?

To buy a flat in Barcelona. Use it a few weeks a year as a vacation getaway and rent it out to tourists on Airbnb the rest of the time. That’s the Dream! Easy money, lots of profit and almost no work, right? (post: How to buy a house in Barcelona, a 10 step guide) But can you really Airbnb your Barcelona apartment?

Well, we looked into it, and you might be in for quite a surprise. Tourist rentals are highly regulated in Barcelona.

Especially since 2017, since they do not always attract the right kind of tourism. Getting a license within the city is very difficult, and once you do the math it may not be worth the headache.

But please don’t get discouraged, it might be more difficult than you thought at first, but every problem has a solution. Or at least this is our motto at Property Management Barcelona.

This Post at a Glimpse

How Tourism evolved in Barcelona

In the 90’s, especially after the Olympic Games (1992), Barcelona put itself on the map as one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world.

All industries linked to tourism thrived over the years. The demand for Vacation Rentals grew rapidly. 

Since vacation rental apartments were less expensive than hotels or even hostels, they attracted the sort of tourism a city normally wants to avoid (young party people, sharing a flat amongst too many, excessive noise, etc.).

But these flats made money. It was such good business that many started to operate without a license.

Soon complaints arose. The local Hotel Industry wasn’t able to compete against the inexpensive flats. Also the neighbours of the Airbnb apartments in Barcelona, were growing tired of the constant parties and lack of control.

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The City of Barcelona Responds

The city of Barcelona answered firmly with a hard set of regulations. Huge fines for any Airbnb flat that was operating without a license, where established.

The owners that already had a license, where made directly responsible for any issues at their properties. From now on any problem needed to be solved ASAP, or they could risk losing their license.

On top of that, after 2017 the city got divided into zones with license restrictions by the PEUAT.  This means “Plan especial Urbanístico de Alojamiento Turístico” in Spanish. So it basically is a tourism planning agency.

This agency was formed to implement a plan that would highly restrict the issuing of new Tourist Licenses in Barcelona’s high demand areas. Also they would try to reduce the ones already out there.

The Definition of "Vacation Rental"

The autonomous community of Cataluña and the City of Barcelona both define a Vacation Rental as:  “Accommodation provided by the owners to sporadic tenants, directly or indirectly, through agencies if necessary, in exchange for an economic consideration for a stay of 31 days or less.”

Why it is so difficult to get a Vacation Rental License in Barcelona?

If you want to Airbnb your Barcelona Apartment: First, you get your property in Order

The first step in getting your Vacation Rental License is getting your property in order. This means:

  •  The property must be rented at least two times a year.
  • The rental period may never be longer than 31 days.
  •  The property must be registered as living quarters and have the corresponding Certificate of Occupancy (locally known as “cédula de habitabilidad”).
  • The property may never be occupied by more tenants than specified on the Certificate of Occupancy.
  • The flat must be fully furnished including home appliances and in perfect hygienic conditions.

Second, get approval for your tourist license

  • Your application will first go to the local Town Hall.
  • From there it will be sent to the Tourism Registry of Catalunya.
  • The Tourism Registry of Catalunya will approve your license only if it has pre-approval from PEUAT (Plan especial Urbanístico de Alojamiento Turístico).

Third, the tricky part

PEUAT has divided Barcelona into several zones. 

  • Zone 1: No new licenses issued. If an old license opens up it is not re-issued to a new owner. Sadly this zone includes all of the highly attractive touristic areas.
  • Zone 2: No new licenses issued. If an old license opens up it will be re-issued to a new owner. This zone includes pretty much all areas surrounding the high yield zone 1.
  • Zone 3: Very small and far away zone. New License may be issued under specific conditions.
  • Zone 4: In this zone, it is strictly forbidden to create any new tourist properties.

For a more visual look of the zones please visit: PEUAT WEBSITE .

Buying an already existing License

Since in most cases no new licenses are being issued, the demand for them has risen astronomically. Also their prices skyrocketed. Nowadays you can pay anything in between 60.000€ – 120.000€ for one license alone.

Of course, this does not take into consideration the amount you will have to pay for the property.

This might interest you: Real estate commissions in Spain (a guide)

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Does the Math Work?

Since it’s almost impossible to get a new tourist license in any high demand area, you’ll have to buy an existing one (60-120k).

Also, on top of utilities, and quarterly taxes (24%), you’ll have to pay for any and all problems your tenants may cause. These can include fines for excessive noise, destruction of furniture or damage to the property itself.

At Property Management Barcelona we have come to the conclusion that a Vacation Rental isn’t always the money maker it seems to be.

The Short -Term Rental, an Elegant Solution

Since Vacation Rentals might be harder than you first imagined, let us propose another solution.
Short -Term Rentals.
These type of rentals last between 3-11 months. They will yield bigger returns than Long-Term Rentals and attract higher quality tenants than tourist rentals. Above all, they will cause practically no problems with the city of Barcelona or angry neighbours.

Let us show you exactly how it works and what you need to do, in our Short – Term rental post, or just get in touch and we can guide you through it.

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