Tourist short-term rental regulations in Palma, Mallorca, Spain

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Tourist short-term rental regulations in Palma, Mallorca, Spain

Mismatches
Policies and regulations Planning

Main objectives of the project

The new modalities of tourism endanger our cities and the option to have affordable housing. Nowhere is this reality more clear than in Mallorca. For this reason, the City Hall adopted a new regulation to protect the multi-family buildings of the city. The ban was one of the most restrictive ones in Europe: no apartment can be rented to tourist in the whole city.

Date

  • 2018: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Palma City Hall
  • Consell de Mallorca

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Country/Region: Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Description

Palma is located in the south of Mallorca. It is considered one of the most touristy cities in the world. The tourist activity has been built with to features: low-salaries (to compete with other destinations in price) and land speculation. Since the 2008 crisis, as in other cities in Europe, the speculative nature of tourism moved to short-term rentals of housing units. To avoid the harsh consequences, the city hall took a drastic measure.

In 2018, the city council of Palma introduced regulations to ban all tourist rental apartments in the city, leaving only a small number of single-family homes available for rent by tourists on a short-stay basis. This measure was disputed in court. In 2022, the city hall won the case at the Suprem Court of Spain.

The interesting part of the regulation is how they used a legal loophole to implement it. In 2017, the Balearic Island Parliament approved a new regulation for tourist rental apartments. In the new law, they stated the possibility of banning new short-term rental licenses. However, a territorial plan needed to be approve. Moreover, a complete ban was not possible. There was a mandate to specify which typologies of housing and in what zoning areas the ban could be introduced. Yet, considering the urgent need of regulation in some zones, either the regional government or, only for the city, Palma’s city hall, could enforce precautionary measures.

This “urgent” regulation was thought as an instrument to define a new and provisional zoning area of the city (such as its center) and for a specific type of building. For example, to stop a new big project of tourist apartments or hotels. However, Palma declared that all the municipality should be zoned as a zoning district with urgent need for banning short-term rentals. As for the typology of housing, they ban all multifamily apartments to be rented to tourists. We have to bear in mind that multifamily buildings are overwhelmingly majority in the city. So, by using the loophole, nearly every building in the city was affected by the ban.

The territorial plan, approved two years after the ban, respected the regulation of the city. The Palma experience gives proof of how legal loopholes can empower cities to take bold regulations to face the housing crisis we live in. Now, the houses thought as affordable for people are being protected.