Barcelona to ban Airbnbs after rents spiral 70pc


Barcelona is introducing a blanket ban on Airbnbs in a desperate bid to stop rents spiralling and lure more young people back into the city.

Mayor Jaume Collboni said by 2029 there will be no tourist apartments in Barcelona, and that the municipal government will do this by not issuing new licences and not renewing existing ones.

The Spanish politician hopes to bring over 10,000 short-term lets back onto the residential market to stop young people being forced out of the city by unaffordable rents.

Rental prices in the Catalan capital have risen by 68pc over the last decade according to council data, while the cost of buying a house has risen far more slowly at 38pc.

The mayor will have to get legislation through the Generalitat of Catalonia – Catalan government – later this year. If he does, he plans not to renew licences for short-term lets from November 2028.

Mr Collboni said rents in Barcelona were “skyrocketing”, and that young people studying – as well as those on average salaries – are having to leave the city because they cannot afford housing.

On Friday he said: “We need housing supply to grow so that people do not have to move out of the city and so that housing prices do not rise and start to fall.”

Demonstrators march shouting slogans against the Formula 1 Barcelona Fan Festival
Barcelona has been rocked in recent months by demonstrations against overtourism - AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Over 12 million tourists visited Barcelona last year, according to its tourism board. While 6.9pc less people visited in 2023 compared to four years ago, tourist spend has risen by 15pc over the same period.

A licensing system was introduced for Airbnbs in Barcelona back in 2011, and in 2015 former Mayor Ada Colau – known for his anti-Airbnb stance – prevented property owners from letting out single rooms.

This year, the city also raised its ‘tourism tax’ to €3.25 (£2.75) per night – marking the second time it has climbed in just four years.

Damià Calvet, a councillor from the separatist party Together for Catalonia, called Mr Collboni’s new plans “improvised”, “ideological” and “not based on legality or the regulation of the rents themselves”.

Maria Harris, of industry body, The Open Property Data Association, said the Mayor’s decision “comes down to politics”.

She added: “A lot of younger people are being forced to leave the city. Lots of lower income families can’t find rental accommodation. He [Mr Collboni] thinks the answer is to reduce the amount of homes for tourism.”

The Mayor has also introduced a new rule, forcing developers to pay nearly a third of the value of a new project in cash to the municipal government if they do not comply with the requirement to build 30pc affordable housing.

This money will then be redirected to other plots or neighbourhoods where affordable homes are being built.