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VACATION RENTAL PROPERTIES: new regulations for short term-rentals

A new law, Royal Decree 28/2016 that regulates vacation rental properties and modifies the existing regulation for vacation rental properties was published on 11th February 2016 in the Official Gazette of the Andalusian Government and will enter into force on May 12th, 2016.

L112-01345-1What is meant by “vacation rental properties”?
The Royal Decree classifies as vacation rental properties (“alojamiento o vivienda turística”) those properties that are located on residential land and are regularly offered as accommodation to tourists in exchange for monetary compensation.

When a property is regularly advertised and marketed to tourists it will now be considered a vacation rental property. Travel agencies, tour operators, intermediary companies and all those companies or individuals that offer the property and include a reservation option are classified as tourist channels.

As stated in this law, there has been a significant increase in the use of private accommodation for touristic purposes which may lead to intrusion and unfair competition, contrary to this new regional law. The aim of this new law is to regulate those properties that are used as vacation rental properties in order to set minimum standards of quality, comfort and safety for consumers.

To market and promote these types of properties (both for renting the property as a whole, or renting spare bedrooms – “Bed & Breakfast”), the law therefore:

i) establishes a number of requirements that the properties must fulfill,
ii) regulates the minimum information that rental contracts must contain, and
iii) requires the owner to register their properties used as vacation rental properties in a special registry (“Registro De Turismo de Andalucía”).

The new regulation does not apply to:
a) Properties that are conceded without any monetary compensation.
b) A rental contract of more than two consecutive months signed by one tenant or group of tenants.
c) Rural vacation rental properties, which have their own legal definition and are subject to their own specific regulation.
d) Where there are three or more residential units, all owned by the same individual or company, that are marketed as vacation rental properties, and that are located within the same building or group of buildings, regardless of whether they are adjoining units or not: these also have their own legal definition and are subject to their own specific regulation.

I. New requirements for vacation rental properties:

a) Must have a “first occupation license”, and must comply at all times with general minimum residential standards of quality and technical upkeep.

b) All rooms advertised as bedrooms must have direct external ventilation, or windows to patios, and some system to help darken the room (e.g. shutters, blinds or curtains). Note that this requirement does not apply to properties that fall into the legal category of properties of “cultural interest” to which refurbishments cannot be undertaken.

c) Properties must be adequately furnished and equipped with all necessary appliances and utensils, as necessary to adequately accommodate the maximum number of individuals, that as advertised can stay in the property.

d) Permanent air conditioning installations in all bedrooms and living rooms are obligatory for properties rented during the months of May to September, inclusive. Likewise, permanent heating installations are required for the same rooms during the months of October to April. Note that the same exemption applies here to properties designated as of “cultural interest” as above in point I.b.

e) An on-site first aid kit.

f) Descriptive touristic information for the area must be available in physical or electronic form, including nearby entertainment areas, restaurants and cafes, shops and grocery stores, parking facilities, medical services, public transportation, and guides for current shows or spectacles, cinemas and theatres.

g) Complaint forms must be made available within the property to all people that are renting, and a notice board announcing their availability must be displayed in a visible place within the property.

h) Cleaning services upon arrival and departure of new clients.

i) A double set of household linen and of general household items, as necessary to adequately accommodate the maximum number of individuals, that as advertised can stay in the property.

j) Provide customers with a 24-hour emergency contact telephone number, and one for general queries that may arise related to the property.

k) Provide clients with adequate usage information and operating instruction manuals for appliances and other devices.

l) Inform clients of any internal rules with respect to proper usage of the property itself and any tertiary property areas (e.g. community areas) and/or equipment, and to also inform clients if pets are allowed or already present in the property, and any restrictions to smokers, as well as any specifically restricted areas, if any.

II. Requirements for rental contracts of vacation rental properties:

The rental contract for a vacation rental property should contain at minimum: personal information of the owner (or legally authorized intermediary, as applicable); the “special registry” number assigned to the property (as given once inscribed in the “Registro de Turismo de Andalucía”); number of individuals that will stay in the property; arrival and departure dates; total price for the entire stay (including water, electricity, and cleaning); contact numbers for emergencies and general inquiries; identification documents of all people that will stay in the property, and any payment terms regarding the price, reservation deposit, cancellation policy, and any respective penalties.

Once duly completed and signed by both parties, the contract should be kept by the owner or intermediary and, if requested, made available to the Junta de Andalucía for period of one year.

The advertised price should be per nightly stay, and include a clause that explains that if either the client or the owner (either party) should cancel the contract due to completely unavoidable circumstance, that, if adequately documented and justified, no penalties will be applied.

III. Registration in the special registry (the “Registro de Turismo de Andalucía”)

In order to start offering a property as a vacation rental property, the owner or intermediary will have to provide a sworn “statement of responsibility” where they declare that the property abides by all the above-mentioned requirements, and file it with the special registry, the “Registro de Turismo de Andalucía”. A unique registration number will be provided in return, and the property can at that point be marketed as a vacation rental property. The statement must be accompanied by, at minimum:

a) Registration details of the property, including land registry information, cadastral reference, and maximum number of occupants, as per the “first occupancy license” or an equivalent document.

b) Personal details of the owner and a contact address.

c) Identity of the intermediary agent, if it is not the actual owner, together with documentation that shows that the intermediary agent has been legally authorized by the owner to market the property as a vacation rental property.

Once the registration of the vacation rental property is completed, the resulting registration number must be included in all relevant forms of advertising or marketing.

The owner of the property is responsible for complying with the requirements of this law, unless otherwise specified in the “statement of compliance” filed with the special registry (“Registro de Turismo de Andalucía”.)

Not complying with the required registration in the special registry (“Registro de Turismo de Andalucía”.) is considered serious offense and the applicable fines will range from 2.001 to 18.000 euros. In the case a more serious offense is committed (not allowing inspections or providing false documentation) the fine could amount to 150.000 euros.

CRUZ-CONDE & ASOCIADOS
www.cruz-conde.com

 

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