Barcelona steps up fight against illegal tourist apartments as locals are priced out
Barcelona steps up fight against illegal tourist apartments as locals are priced out
- Title: Barcelona steps up fight against illegal tourist apartments as locals are priced out
- Date: 17th August 2017
- Summary: BARCELONA, SPAIN (RECENT) (REUTERS) BEACHGOERS AT BARCELONETA BEACH WITH "W" HOTEL IN THE BACKGROUND VARIOUS OF PEOPLE AT THE BEACH PEOPLE IN THE SEA, TWO USING LILOS WOMAN PADDLEBOARDING BARCELONA, SPAIN (AUGUST 16, 2017) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF GAUDI'S ICONIC SAGRADA FAMILIA CHURCH LAS RAMBLAS PROMENADE PACKED WITH PEDESTRIANS VARIOUS OF TOURISTS AT LAS RAMBLAS PULLING SUITCASES ON WHEELS GIRLS POSING FOR SELFIE BARCELONA, SPAIN (RECENT - AUGUST 12, 2017) (REUTERS) PROTESTERS DEMONSTRATING AGAINST ILLEGAL TOURIST FLATS AND DRUNK AND DISORDERLY TOURISTS GATHERED AT BARCELONETA BEACH PROTESTERS ON THE BEACH CLAPPING AND CHANTING "WE DON'T WANT DRUNKEN TOURISM" PROTESTANTS ON THE BEACH CLAPPING AND CHANTING "WE DON'T WANT TOURIST APARTMENTS" (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ENGINEER AND BARCELONETA RESIDENT, DAVID AIZA, 29-YEARS-OLD, SAYING: "We are not against tourism, tourism is very necessary in Barcelona but we are in favour of legal tourism, tourism that is lodged in hotels and hostels, tourism that respects residents. When I go to another country I don't bother the neighbours." PROTESTERS IN THE SEA HOLDING A BANNER READING (Catalan) "FOR THE ABOLITION OF TOURIST APARTMENTS" SIGNS ON THE BEACH AGAINST TOURIST APARTMENTS, ONE READING (English) "WE DON'T WANT TOURISTS IN OUR BUILDINGS. THIS IS NOT A BEACH RESORT." SIGN READING "AIRBNB - INSECURITY, SPECULATION" VARIOUS OF TWO FULLY CLOTHED MEN SLEEPING ON THE BEACH EXTERIOR OF BARCELONA CITY HALL SIGN READING BARCELONA CITY HALL BARCELONA, SPAIN (AUGUST 16, 2017) (REUTERS) BARCELONA CITY HALL CHIEF OF URBAN PLANNING JANET SANZ ENTERING MEETING (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BARCELONA CITY HALL CHIEF OF URBAN PLANNING, JANET SANZ, SAYING: "If apartments are used for tourist rentals, without regulation or controls, what happens is that people end up homeless because the money earned from renting to tourists is greater than for residential rentals. So, we are trying to guarantee that this does not happen and that apartments go to local residents and that, in addition, the law is followed as it is on our side and that is what residents are demanding from us." TOURIST BUS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BARCELONA CITY HALL CHIEF OF URBAN PLANNING, JANET SANZ, SAYING: "Barcelona is an internationally desirable city and the investment funds are arriving here with great impact and buying many buildings, trying to change the use of these buildings and we also see a growing problem that when we restrict building hotels then they focus on building luxury houses where returns are also high." NARROW STREET IN BARCELONA'S CENTRAL WORKING CLASS NEIGHBOURHOOD OF EL RAVAL VARIOUS OF DILAPIDATED EXTERIOR OF BUILDING BOUGHT BY INVESTMENT FUND RUNDOWN STAIRCASE INSIDE BUILDING BANGLADESHI CHEF SHIPLU AHMED WELCOMING FRIENDS TO HIS FLAT WHERE HE AND HIS FAMILY ARE THE ONLY REMAINING RESIDENTS AFTER AN INVESTMENT FUND BOUGHT THE BUILDING AND PAID RESIDENTS TO LEAVE AHMED'S WIFE AND A FRIEND AHMED REACHING INTO THE FRIDGE AHMED POURING A DRINK FROM A BOTTLE FOR HIS GUESTS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF EL RAVAL, SHIPLU AHMED, 31-YEARS-OLD, SAYING: "This is a very tough moment for me, I can't move to another place because right now central Barcelona is very expensive and rents go up every year. For me this is like dying. I'm sorry." VARIOUS OF AHMED WITH HIS WIFE AND FRIEND AHMED IN HIS LIVINGROOM WITH HIS WIFE WHO IS HOLDING THEIR 4-MONTH-OLD BABY AND THEIR 10-YEAR-OLD SON SITTING ON A CHAIR EXTERIOR OF A BUILDING IN THE POBLOU NOU NEIGHBOURHOOD WHICH HAS BEEN BOUGHT BY INVESTMENT FUND VARIOUS OF BANNER HANGING FROM BALCONY READY (Catalan) "WE ARE BEING THROWN OUT OF OUR HOMES" MONTSERRAT FEREZ, RETIRED POBLE NOU RESIDENT, 92-YEARS-OLD, WALKING TOWARDS KITCHEN FEREZ WASHING DISHES (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) POBLE NOU RESIDENT, RETIRED, MONTSERRAT FEREZ, 92-YEARS-OLD, SAYING: "Foreigners are coming and they buy or rent flats in the neighbourhood and they make us leave. At the moment, I have not been told to go but I can see it coming." VARIOUS OF FEREZ SHOWING PICTURES OF HER FAMILY (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) POBLE NOU RESIDENT, RETIRED, MONTSERRAT FEREZ, 92-YEARS-OLD, SAYING: "I have lived here for many years and I have never moved: my children were born here, my husband died here and also my parents. I've done everything in this apartment." NATIVIDAD CAMPOS, POBLE NOU RESIDENT, OFFICE WORKER, 53-YEARS-OLD, PACKING BOXES. HER CONTRACT HAS BEEN TERMINATED AFTER 20 YEARS AND SHE HAS TO LEAVE BY OCTOBER 5. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) POBLE NOU RESIDENT, OFFICE WORKER, NATIVIDAD CAMPOS, 53-YEARS-OLD, SAYING: "I thought about leaving at first but now I have decided that if I have to squat here, I will. If they have to force me out well then they force me out. It won't make a difference by then." BOXES STACKED IN APARTMENT CAMPOS PACKING PANORAMIC VIEW OF BARCELONA
- Embargoed: 31st August 2017 14:49
- Keywords: tourism illegal tourist apartments Barcelona Spain rentals
- Location: BARCELONA, SPAIN
- City: BARCELONA, SPAIN
- Country: Spain
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0016UJP4XZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Barcelona, along with other Spanish cities such as Palma de Mallorca and San Sebastian, is facing a local backlash against tourism with protests over rising rent prices many blame on the popularity of short-term rentals on sites such as Airbnb.
Lured by the Mediterrean Sea, sunshine, culture and nightlife, 30 million tourists, including day-trippers and cruise-ship tourists, visit Barcelona every year, the city hall said, generating income for locals but also putting great pressure on the city.
Barcelona is looking to grow the number of regulators for illegal tourist rentals to 110 by next year as its steps up its crackdown on illegal rentals, a senior city council official said.
The city's authorities are regulating rentals on home-sharing platforms more tightly by requiring landlords to sign up for licences, and are also stepping up inspections.
A year ago, Barcelona had fewer than 10 regulators looking into illegal flats, though the team has already grown to 80, the city council's head of urban planning Janet Sanz said in an interview.
There were still around 5,000 to 6,000 unlicensed tourist flats in Barcelona which the city wants to get rid of after striking a deal with Airbnb in July to try and regulate the rental market together, Sanz added. Airbnb is cooperating with local government and has removed 1,000 illegal tourist rentals from its website, however it is clear that there is more work to do, Sanz said.
Spain's Balearic Islands, another tourist hotspot, also introduced legislation this month to curb the number of illegal rentals, saying it would fine landlords up to 40,000 euros for advertising unlicensed accommodation.
Spain is expecting a record number of 83 million international visitors for 2017, according to forecasts by Caixabank Research.
The rise comes partly due to displaced tourism from areas such as Egypt or Turkey as a result of security concerns.
Sanz said Barcelona is also attractive to investment funds who see a real estate opportunity in the city.
"Barcelona is an internationally desirable city and the investment funds are arriving here with great impact and buying many buildings, trying to change the use of these buildings and we also see a growing problem that when we restrict building hotels then they focus on building luxury houses where returns are also high."
Shiplu Ahmed, 31, from Bangladesh, is the only resident left in a building bought by an investment fund in El Raval, a working class neighbourhood in Barcelona. He lives there with his wife, and two sons. He has refused to take the 5000 euro money offered by the building's new owners because he says he would be unable to afford the rent elsewhere in the city centre and argues the lease he signed is valid until 2019.
Montserrat Ferez, 92, and Natividad Campos, who live in Poble Nou, another Barcelona neighbourhood, are also living in buildings located side by side that were purchased by investment funds.
Ferez said she has not been served a notice yet but can see the writing on the wall. Campos says that she will not leave her flat and prefers to squat.
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