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Barcelona plans to shut all holiday apartments by 2028

 Barcelona, a top Spanish holiday destination, announced on Friday that it will bar apartment rentals to tourists by 2028, an unexpectedly drastic move as it seeks to rein in soaring housing costs and make the city liveable for residents.
Barcelona plans to shut all holiday apartments by 2028

The city's leftist mayor, Jaume Collboni, said that by November 2028, Barcelona will scrap the licences of the 10,101 apartments currently approved as short-term rentals.

"We are confronting what we believe is Barcelona's largest problem," Collboni told a city government event.

The boom in short-term rentals in Barcelona, Spain's most visited city by foreign tourists, means some residents cannot afford an apartment after rents rose 68% in the past 10 years and the cost of buying a house rose by 38%, Collboni said. Access to housing has become a driver of inequality, particularly for young people, he added.

National governments relish the economic benefits of tourism - Spain ranks among the top-three most visited countries in the world - but with local residents priced out in some places, gentrification and owner preference for lucrative tourist rentals are increasingly a hot topic across Europe.

Local governments have announced restrictions on short-term rentals in places such as Spain's Canary Islands, Lisbon and Berlin in the past decade.

Spain's Socialist housing minister, Isabel Rodriguez, said she supported Barcelona's decision.

"It's about making all the necessary efforts to guarantee access to affordable housing," she posted on X.

Vacation rentals platform Airbnb , which hosts a significant number of Barcelona listings, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Collboni is making a mistake that will lead to (higher) poverty and unemployment," Barcelona's tourist apartments association APARTUR said in a statement, adding the ban would trigger a rise in illegal tourist apartments.

Hotels stand to benefit from the move. The opening of new hotels in the city's most popular areas was banned by a far-left party governing Barcelona between 2015 and 2023, but Collboni has signalled he could relax the restriction.

Barcelona's hotel association declined to comment on Friday's announcement.

"Those 10,000 apartments will be used by the city's residents or will go on the market for rent or sale," Collboni said of the measure.

Barcelona's local government said in a statement it would maintain its "strong" inspection regime to detect potential illegal tourist apartments once the ban comes into force.

No new tourist apartments have been allowed in the city in recent years. The local government has ordered the shutting of 9,700 illegal tourist apartments since 2016 and close to 3,500 apartments have been recovered to be used as primary housing for local residents, it said.

By Joan Faus

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