New tourism law

New tourism law

Update 16 June: As I said in the last post on 2 June, the new law is under attack. And to give an idea of the type of attack it’s under, today the national government minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, and president of the Canarian PP (conservative party), José Manuel Soria, himself a Canarian, has laid into it in the strongest terms. It’s a “fraud” for the tourism sector and the Canaries themselves, he said.

Referring to the eastern province’s claims that the Tenerife hotel sector was being favoured over that of Gran Canaria, Sr Soria said that the law wasn’t a fraud that shows preference to one part of the Canaries over another, but in a far wider sense it was a fraud in respect of the archipelago as a whole. In terms of the law’s very title, which includes the word modernization, he said that there is nothing more opposed to modernization than the establishment of obstacles and restrictions in the tourism sector.

He expressed the opinion, too, that each island, through its Cabildo, should be allowed to determine its own tourism priorities and promotions, “without the “guardianship” of any regional administration. Sr Soria reminded the conference of the regional PP that 2013 was the year in which the Cabildos, democratically elected, celebrated their centenary: what’s with the Canarian Government’s obsession and mistrust about the powers and jurisdiction of the Cabildos, he asked. Sr Soria closed by asking the Canarian Government to reflect on the enormous damage such anti-competitive laws can do, and insisted that what the islands needed was the best hotels for tourists themselves to decide where they want to stay.

I think many will agree with him, though it should be noted that he himself is still talking in terms of hotels. It should also be borne in mind that there is not the best of historical blood between him and Canarian President Paulino Rivero. None the less, it’s good to hear a voice, albeit a Canarian one, speaking from the national seat of power. This is Madrid calling …

Update 2 June:  The ink is hardly dry on the paper, and I’ve not yet even had a chance to settle down to look at the clauses in detail, but already the new law is under attack. There are the usual interest groups seeing the legislation wrongheaded in almost every way from favouritism for Tenerife province over that of Las Palmas, to restrictive practices, violations of EU law, etc. The debate on this will rumble on and on, I suspect, and some argue that the law will hardly last a year before it has to be redrafted.

In my own opinion, the law is indeed clearly restrictive. Whether this is permissible within the terms of the EU seems clear – it is. That at least is the current opinion of many if not most judges here and two previous EU rulings. Whether it’s legally valid, though, is for me less of an issue than whether it’s effective. It seems to me that the restrictions are still so great, and the focus on hotel accommodation so marked, that the authorities really haven’t got the measure of their own market, and are failing significantly in understanding that what really matters is not the Canaries, but what tourists want.

This is the view, too, of Sergio Moreno of the Instituto Universitario de Turismo y Desarrollo Económico Sostenible (Tides). He says that this legislation is based on an important conceptual failure because the government is focusing the debate on the territory rather than the tourists. Sr Moreno argues that the whole controversy about numbers of stars – a detailed debate over whether 4* hotels should be allowed in addition to 5* ones ending in the decision that they were not allowed as newbuilds but allowed as renovation projects – was pretty senseless since it is services offered, rather than number of stars, that is the real indication of quality.

I can do no better than repeat his conclusion: what is important is not the territory itself, but the industry’s own adaptation to tourists, and to do this, you have to specialize. You can have a 5* hotel all you like but if it isn’t following and adapting to the market of the moment, its stars are of no value whatsoever.

Update 3.30pm: Sorry this is all bitty, but I’m rushed off my feet at present. HERE is the new law, now published. HERE is the process it has gone through.

Update 29 May: As expected, the new tourism legislation was approved yesterday. I will post details as soon as possible …

Update 24 May: The Canarian government yesterday approved clauses for the new law so as to provide a framework within which more than 5,000 villas in the Canaries that are currently residential will be able to be used touristically; moreover, their plots will be reclassified at Government level, thus bypassing where necessary individual Cabildo restrictions and Ayuntamiento land usage designations. The law will also considerably reduce the “coastal band” for villa legitimacy: the Government had been aiming for a 500m exlusion area but this has now been reduced to 200m, and even further to 100m if in a clifftop area. Lanzarote, which is where around half of the properties affected are located, is likely to benefit especially from the measure.

The final debate on the legislation is scheduled to take place this coming Tuesday. This is something that Alotca has lobbied actively for, and continued to negotiate about even though much of the work was carried out in the background. Although we’ll have to wait until at least Tuesday for the final detail, needless to say we are absolutely delighted with this news.

Update 11 April:  The new law is still mired in Parliament. Today we’ve learned that the Canarian Socialist and nationalist groups will be presenting separate amendments to the Bill.  The main reason for posting something of such little immediate import is to show the two main issues that are causing problems right now … and neither is concerned with the matters that would concern most readers here, I imagine. The first is the nature of the role of Cabildos and Ayuntamientos in modernisation plans, and the other is that of the categories permitted in newly created tourist establishments. There is also dispute over whether to include 4* establishments in the moratorium. There is still no sign of when this will be translated into law.

Update 7 February 2013: The moratorium will be, as I posted below last September, enshrined in law and “indefinite” once the new law comes into force. The legislation passed its first parliamentary process yesterday, with the total rejection of all opposition amendments. The opposition, and amendments, had argued that the new legislation was interventionist, and ignored completely island cabildos and local Ayuntamientos. All such arguments were dismissed. Environment and Regional Policy Minister Domingo Berriel said that this was going to be a permanent law to regulate the growth of the tourism sector, and that any problems in its imposition would, as was the case with any law, be dealt with in the normal  course of events and in the normal manner. “Call this interventionist if you like”, said Sr Berriel, “but this strategic activity must be regulated”. Sr Berriel confirmed that the new law will act to correct residentialism, something that had been very negative for tourist areas. The word  he uses is “reconducir”. I’ve translated “act to correct”, but could equally have used “redirect”. Once again it is far from clear what the government has in mind in this respect, which is of such great interest to those who own property of any type in tourist areas. I’ve posted previously on other measures in the bill, so won’t repeat them here, but it’s worth mentioning that Sr Berriel insisted that no more land would be classified for tourist use, “because there is enough available”. The bill now continues its way through Parliament, with the first hurdle cleared.

Original post 22 September 2012: The Canarian Government has sent the draft new tourism law, the Ley de Renovación y Modernización Turística de Canarias, to the Consultative Committee for consultation. I haven’t seen the full draft yet myself, but the Government has asked for a speedy response: as we know, the new law must be on the statute books in December at the latest because the touristic moratorium was extended in May only until the end of the year. What the Government has formally announced at this point, though, is that the law has as a primary objective the renovation and modernization of touristic urbanizations, areas and products; the diversification of its touristic offer; and authorizations in 2013 and 2014 for 5* hotels in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.  Once this period is over, new licences will be considered for establishments under 5* as long as they provide luxury places tied to renovation projects or replace obsolete beds. Construction team employment must significantly favour those who are registered as unemployed. Existing restrictions outside of these criteria are to be maintained indefinitely. Recognizing the criticism of this stance in some quarters, the Government says that whether people agree with this or not, this is the Government’s model and decision, and that the new law does away with the need to keep renewing the existing touristic moratorium which can now be considered to be enshrined in law. The fundamental objects of the legislation are:

  • to manage and organize the growth of the touristic offer, tying this to quality improvement both in terms of renovation and new build
  • to increase quality levels and the category of touristic establishments
  • to avoid, and if appropriate, redirect the residentialisation of touristic areas
  • to provide the Government with effective juridical mechanisms to incentivise and, as appropriate, ensure compliance with conservation, renovation and effective use requirements
  • to restore the image of touristic areas

The new law envisages the possibility of touristic licences being awarded in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote only for:

  • the renovation of existing touristic establishments
  • the implementation of touristic places based on rights deriving from renovation projects
  • hotels on approved urban non-touristic land (suelo urbano consolidado) and rural hotels
  • hotels of a minimum 5* category
  • non-hotel accommodation where planning rules expressly permit, or do not prohibit, it, with a minimum 5* category in respect of apartments
  • specialist accommodation establishments

The new plans will complement, and in some cases replace, existing urban designations in order to make urban renovation more viable. They will also include new formats in touristic organization such as the condominium – based on the American model – and touristic villas, the latter being at least 500 metres from the coast, of a density of between 10 and 40 units per hectare depending on overall plot size, and which do not exceed 20% of the surface area concerned. In addition, a procedure is envisaged to regularize and authorize accommodation establishments which have existing licences from before Ley 19/2003, and which comply with all requirements necessary to be considered touristic establishments. With regard to incentives for renovation, the law includes measures for financial incentives and additional places – up to 50% for hotels and 25% for apartments, except where:

  • the category will be lower than 3*
  • the conversion is from a hotel to a non-hotel establishment
  • when the conversion is from a non-hotel to a hotel establishment that does not convert the regimen of horizontal property to one of ordinary ownership or co-ownership


  1. Hi janet..

    Have you any idea what are they doing to try to attract tourists to THE CANARIES if anything

    Regards Mike.

  2. Author

    “going upmarket” … that’s their answer, not mine …

  3. Best they address the cost of flights from the UK. For a flight in October, return to UK – £650 for two people. In December over £850.

  4. Author

    Don’t see they can do too much about that really …. even if it’s a matter of subsidies, that’s a Madrid issue. Putting everything together doesn’t make for a good outlook, to me, but they’re convinced they’re doing the right thing.

  5. Hello Janet

    I own an apartment in Altamira Apartments but I do not rent it out. I believe the apartments have a tourist licence, the apartments are a mixture of individual owners, some who rent out. We also have time share & aparthotel run by the sole agent who appears to be connected to the original developer. I am therefore a bit concerned by what you have written regarding the consultation in particular the section “to avoid and if appropriate redirect the residentialisation of touristic areas” what does that mean? do they intend to force owners to rent out their properties and therefore be unable to use them for residential purposes.

  6. Author

    I’m afraid I don’t know at this stage. I don’t even know if the actual draft would clarify, but it’s something I’ll be checking at a meeting I’ll be in the coming week.

  7. Tenerife……”upmarket”……it’ll never happen! Just returned from a week at our apartment and apart from one very plush new bar – Papagayo Beach Club at Veronicas, I cannot see Tenerife ever being upmarket! Same old tatty tourist shops selling rubbish, shabby looking bars with furniture dating back to the 90’s, restaurants selling “3 course meals for less than 8 euros” (absolutely vile food in my experience in the past) & generally annoying touts so desparate to drag tourists in for 1 euro beers! They can fling up as many 5 star hotels as they like…..Tenerife is not and never will be an upmarket holiday destination! Get real stupid Government!

  8. Author

    You’ve not been to El Duque then …. ? 😀

  9. Yes Janet I have on a few occasions. Always seems to be a bit lacking in any atmosphere to be honest. Yeah it’s nice but it’s not out of this world……and it’s only 30 mins walk from Las Americas. The problem is CHAVS will go to the more upmarket places anyway if they can afford it so it’s not really exclusive is it?

    And also El Duque is just a tiny area in the south. There is no way that kind of place would be rolled out across all the southern resorts. Like the bar I mentioned at Veronicas……gorgeous place, white leather interiors, waitress service……yet on the same strip of bars that are tacky, loud and full of puking teenagers!

  10. Author

    I wouldn’t mind betting that renovation of such areas is within the remit of this legislation: I’m thinking of phrases like “The new plans will complement, and in some cases replace, existing urban designations in order to make urban renovation more viable ” …

    They would be more than happy, though, it seems to me, with Playa de las Américas being a 3* resort for those who want that sort of holiday, normally apartments, with the 5* hotels being dotted around the coast, as we’ve already seen in Guía de Isora.

  11. There could hardly be a more sweeping government planned change in the vision for the canaries , than what the canary government are now proposing. Quite what any of this 5 star wishful thinking has to do with the real world of canary tourism or the level of canary unemployment I dont know.

    What is needed now is for a alotca to reinvigorate its campaign and affected canary groups being involved to oppose this centralised imposed nightmare. This vision is a pie in the sky plan, hard to believe that this is the canary government that has really decided to do this.

  12. Janet
    You mention new formats for touristic villas. Would they come after the 2013/2014 5* authorisations or after that, as in your second paragraph?

    Since I have a close interest in the villa licencing proposals I am keen to know the details. I am particularly concerned about the “at least 500 metres from the coast” part of what’s been said. Do you know if this is a magic figure and where has it come from?

    (Needless to say, I’m about 450m from the coast, although it depends what “coast” actually means.)

  13. Author

    I believe the villa regulations come into play immediately. The 500m is what is drafted as the limit based on existing measurements … these are clear for current planning rules, and your ayuntamiento will know where the limits are in your area.

    I wish I could tell you more about the villa part of the legislation but I’ve told what I know up to know. Of course, the minute I know more I’ll post it.

  14. Author

    Andrew, I don’t see it as a major change from what they’ve been saying for quite a while, as I’ve been reporting over that time. It is consolidating what they have repeatedly stressed is their vision and what they have repeatedly said they’re going to do. The restrictions they’re imposing already exist – they are just being codified into law. The Government is quite explicit: whether people agree with them or not, it’s their tourism model and their decision. I have been trying to tell people for some while that the changes they envisaged just weren’t going to happen.

  15. Janet, sorry if I’m taking this down a route that is perhaps away from the proposals but…..

    You say “The 500m is what is drafted as the limit based on existing measurements … these are clear for current planning rules, and your ayuntamiento will know where the limits are in your area.”.

    Which current planning rules and which (current) limits are we talking about?

  16. Author

    The entire Spanish coastline has a boundary that is officially “public”. It’s “Costas”. This is taken into account when any planning consent is given for “frontline” property. It varies between 30 and 100 metres, each area is different for a variety of reasons, so would need to be checked individually. But the idea of the “Costas boundary” is carved in stone. It is this boundary that will apply … and where it starts depends on your area.

  17. So is that boundary 30 to 100m from the “waters edge” and the 500m would be from that boundary?

  18. Author

    No, 500m is from the coast, wherever that’s designated in your area. You’ll be able to work out where the coast is from the 30/100m desgnation. It’s not 500 from the 30/100 …

  19. yes janet agreed. I too have been aware that what the government has been doing is pretty much set in stone, and they were never going to be open to any sort of debate resulting in reform. The question is now is alotca going to campaign for reform? In my personal opinion that is what I would want to see happen, a campaign for legal private renting, in the touristic sites initially, free from sole agents. I accept that such a campaign would take time and money, but if the canary economy suffers due to the governments vision, then if an alternative strategy has been promoted the issue remains alive and change is possible.

  20. I think I’ve got it! Where does the 500m number come from? It’s not mentioned in the press release. Was it stated at a press conference or something?

  21. Author

    Yes, government presentation. My post was a combination of actual wording from the press release announcing that the draft had now gone to consultation, and the additional government presentation.

  22. Author

    Andrew, Alotca is never going to campaign for private renting on residential complexes. Our lobbying for reform of the sole agency system, however, has been considerable but the legislation will not contain a free-for-all on touristic sites regardless of anything we might say or do, even if that was something the asociación agreed should be campaigned for!

    For what it’s worth, the campaign doesn’t need to be “reinvigorated”. We have been campaigning all along. Our practice is to announce what we are going to do and then do it, rather than give 5-minute updates to reassure people we’re actually doing what we said we were going to do. If people like us can’t be assumed to be keeping their word then there really isn’t much hope. At some point in the near future we hope to hold another public meeting, so yes, the campaign continues.

  23. Janel, sorry to keep pushing on this one. Do you know why a 500m minimum distance from the coast has been chosen and do you think there will be any room for manoeuvre on this in the forthcoming consultation? Was this aspect mentioned in any of the earlier discussions?

    And, by the way, who makes up the Consultative Committee?

  24. Author

    I strongly suspect the 500m limit was chosen so as to leave the whole coastal area for hotels and clearly touristic properties, and as such I imagine there will be no moving it. It, specifically, was never mentioned but it was implied simply because of the emphasis on the improvement of the “touristic aspect in coastal areas” …

    THIS is the Consultative Cttee … HERE‘s the Wiki description of it.

    On a slightly different note, just so it’s clear that the Canarians are very well aware of this issue, HERE is an article today from the press in which a local businessman gives his view of the draft tourism legislation. It’s worth reading, or running through Google translate.

  25. If it stays at 500m then, along with every other private villa in my area, my villa has no chance. Excluded for one of the main reasons that guests want to stay there!

    I agree with the businessman in the Canarias24Horas article but more so. He says each island is different and there should be two regions. I’ve always said that each of the 7 islands should have the power to make and control its own tourism policy.

  26. I think the chances of any change in policy to allow private holiday renting in residential apartments is an emphatic ‘nil’ but these owners do (and more than likely still will) be able to long term rent as identified in the Civil Law.
    My belief, as a member of alotca, is that one of the prime objectives was to try to get reform or regulation of the sole agency system – I will of course stand to be corrected by Janet if I am wrong on this.
    It is interesting that the Government are saying that they will be introducing a ‘Condominium’ based on the American System for Touristic resorts – the American Model does allow for all manner of occupation including short, long term lets and residential occupation by the owner.
    I am happy for alotca to keep nudging the tourismo as they are doing as any movement is a step forward!

  27. Author

    Thanks Phillip, and yes, you’re right.

  28. Maybe a silly question but does the prevention of our using and letting out our own properties in any way we choose not violate our human rights??

  29. Author

    No. You have a constitutional right to your own private enjoyment of your own property – and Spain’s and the Canaries’ laws don’t violate that. As such, you’re not being treated “inhumanely”. As I’ve commented before, there is now a clear question about your constitutional right to defend yourself being violated, but that’s after being fined.

  30. I also have a “silly question”. Sorry it’s so long…..

    My municipality has a Plan General de Ordenación dated 2004. Our villa is in an area that is designated for tourist use. The area is in a wider urbanización and all of it is designated as tourist or open space and virtually all of it is within 500m of the coast. Almost all the properties were built before the date of the PGO and there is not much room for any new properties, except in the open spaces. In reality, the properties are a mixture of apartments, bungalows, villas, hotels, shops, restaurants and bars etc, with the non-hotel accommodation being a mix of residential and holiday lets, but not all “legally” so.

    There is also a revision, with proposals, of the PGO dated 2009, “Adaptación a las Directrices de Ordenación General y del Turismo”, in which most of the urbanización is marked up as “suelo urbano consolidado” and as far as I can make out does not change the tourist designation. In fact it is quite clear in the documents that the ayuntamiento would prefer that the whole of this area be given over to tourist use while recognising that it currently includes residential. It appears that it proposes that new residential properties will only be allowed if their designation is mixed-use.

    So, on the one hand the local ayuntamiento wants the area to be of a tourist nature while on the other the Gobierno de Canarias is specifically not allowing certain properties to be used for that purpose. How does that work?

  31. Author

    I don’t know, is the honest answer. I would hope that the full law, when it’s available, will clarify. I’m sorry I can’t say at present.

  32. Author

    That’s about a so-called future “Ley de armonización y la de recualificación turística”. The new law that has just gone to consultation is the “Ley de Renovación y Modernización Turística”. I don’t know whether they mean the same thing, but it would be strange if so that they have a completely different name for the law. There is nothing in the Government pages with that name that I can find.

  33. was wondering why buy an apartment in tenerife if so unhappy craig, there are lots of lovely upmarket restaurants and shops yes there are some tatty ones but thats Tenerife has been for as long as i remember ??

  34. It was an investment purchase and my partner wanted Tenerife purely because it seems to be the most popular of the canaries. We don’t plan on ever living there or anything. The point I was making that only small areas are upmarket. I prefer Gran Canaria.

  35. The Government seems to turn a blind eye to
    noisy bars which seem to get away with not adhering to the 12 o clock curfew, aggressive street sellers, (and I don’t mean all of them) people who invade your space to try to get you in to their restaurant or bar and then try to make a clever comment when you refuse, shops selling overpriced & faulty goods; I could go on but until this is sorted people will never see Tenerife as an upmarket destination. I would also add that a lot of the restaurants offering English breakfasts etc are Spanish owned and merely catering for the local market. I think it would be nice to see a few more offering Continental style breakfast. I think the Government are walking round with blinkers on. Unless you have always been upmarket then I think it will be very difficult to make it any different and anyway who really wants all upmarket? Every destination needs a mix of accommodation. To make Tenerife somewhere that people want to visit, all it needs is more policing. If rules are made then there should be enough people with authority to ensure that they are being adhered to. They are cutting down on the illegal letting but there are a lot more important issues to tackle. Phew, had to get that off my chest!

  36. I agree with what you are saying catherine. I personally think that the illegal letting crackdown started as a knee jerk reaction in 2008. At that time the hotels were suffering declining occupancy due to the crissis and they srcreamed at the government to stop the illegal renters, they wanted those customers in their hotels. Now it seems the government does not want this type of customer at all , not even in hotels, they want 5 star up market customers in a 5 star up market resort. I think the reason for this is that the government is under the influence of the hotel lobby. The hotels can not make money anymore from the traditional working class mass tourist. The only way to get the footfall in competition with other lower cost emerging resorts, is to offer cheaper AI deals. The problem then is the hotels can not make any profit, they are being knocked down by the big tour groups in price, then the AI offering leaves them no returns or plain losses. Rather than leave this natural change to the markets to sort out, and the rise of private rented apartments internet advertised, was an up and coming trend in tourism before the crackdown began, the hotels have persuaded the government to go all out form a new 5 star model. The hotels resaoning for this is that they themselves can make money on that format. They are demanding of the government that what we have in fanabe and around the americas shopping plaza in PDLA is to be rolled out right accross the resorts.
    What the government is going along with is a plan to more or less tear down the old shabby hotels and reconstruct on 5 star lines. They have not considered if this plan is actually the right one for the entire canarian population and economy, just what might be best for the narrow interest of the hotel lobby. Sadley the hotel lobby is very much in control and has the ability to influcnce the policy and mindset of the canarian government in these matters.

  37. My husband commented last night on the number of hotels in the Thomas Cook brochure offering all inclusive only. Who wants this as their only choice? I certainly don’t. The Canaries have so much to offer in the way of fine dining. The renters are their best customers even when they self cater for some of their meals. They are still supporting the economy by buying food from the shops. We have had an apartment in Tenerife since 1985 and one of the main reasons we continue to visit Tenerife is the excellent choice of restaurants.Everybody needs a choice.

  38. Well said Catherine! In just the 4 years we have had our apartment we have pumped plenty of money in the island by fully refurbishing the place & furnishing it with expensive items. And you’re right that even people who do self cater and make meals in their apartment they have to buy the food from somewhere. So what if we have maybe taken a few people off the hotels. I know for a fact that people who have used our place have tried some hotels in Tenerife then stayed in our place and would never consider a hotel again. I’ve just come back from my second trip to Gran Canaria and added to the 3 trips this year to Tenerife I can see how many businesses would be dead without self catering tourists. In fact if it wasn’t for the huge amount of gay tourists who visit Gran Canaria then Playa Del Ingles would be a ghost town!

  39. As Craig says, there are loads of people who simply don’t like hotels, however plush they are (and I’ve stayed in horrible, soulless 5* places for work). In fact, I’d say that those who are prepared to pay more are less likely to want to be in hotels – they can afford to go to a different restaurant every night then home to a private apartment/villa with its own pool etc. They aren’t cattle, and couples without kids rarely want to make use of 5 swimming pools etc.

    My son’s coming over soon and spending part of the time on another island: he can’t pay anything much but there’s no way he’d enjoy being in a herd, particularly not at an AI trough. He’s booking a little holiday apartment on a quiet complex with one pool and a bar/café/bike-hire/shop. It’ll probably be knocked down next year! 🙁

  40. Just spotted this in LaProvincia, for Lanzarote. I am not sure what it means at all. Is it saying that it is going to allow residential complexes to become legally touristic if they pay a licence of 200,000 euros? Or is it saying that dormant touristic complexes will have to pay 200,000 euros to re-license, or is it something else entirely – answers on a postcard!

    Yaiza City Council hopes to raise at least four million euros for the financial compensation to be paid by the dozen illegal tourist establishments to satisfy planning regulations of the new General Plan. The mayor of Yaiza, Gladys Acuna estimated yesterday that each establishment whose licenses are canceled for justice will have to pay an average of 200,000 euros in taxes to meet the new urban criteria contemplated in the Plan.

    The General Plan has included an amendment to the hotels to increase up to 50% whenever the buildable areas and for ara not expand the number of beds which in practice allow illegal hotels regularized. Obtaining this increased buildability is subject, in respect of value capture and prior to or simultaneously with the granting of the necessary planning permission, the Ayuntamiento of Yaiza credit to 15% of urban use from increasing buildable parcel applicable to .

    The drafters of the Plan yesterday defended the solution given for illegal hotels to understand that he was giving an output that is reflected in the philosophy of tourist modernization law of the Canary Islands. In fact, the authors believe that illegal hotels will have to spend about 35% of its surface to edificatoria areas. This situation will force many hotels to eliminate tourist beds.

  41. A bit more research shows this relates to 22 hotels built illegally despite the moratorium. Planning permission was granted when it shouldn’t have been. Rather than pulling down all the hotels, looks like they are going to have to pay 200,000 to be legalised. So, a different issue – phew!

  42. Until the crackdown on illegal letting I took bookings for a friend who owns an apartment in a sole agency complex. I have read so much on all sites that I have come to the stage that I really don’t know what is happening, particularly now there is to be new legislation. The apartment has been sitting empty and if the owner tried to sell it he would make a huge loss. Can anyone tell me in plain and simple terms if there is anything new happening on a sole agency complex in relation to owners letting privately and do you think the situation is going to get even worse than it is at present. I have been inundated with requests for bookings next year and so far have told everyone that the apartment cannot be let. Any info greatly appreciated.

  43. Author

    Until the new law is passed, and clarified, it is not possible to be certain, but at present at least, you cannot take any bookings. They must go through the onsite sole agent. If not, the owner is at risk of a large fine, and so are you for operating as an illegal agent.

  44. Thank you Janet for clarifying the situation, its just as I thought.

  45. While what Janet says is correct (would not be be good to disagree after all this time] another situation exist on our complex where pre 1995 there was a hotel chain and 2 others doing private letting. This is still the case the hotel being the main licence holder and all apartments registered by them with the tourist board the 2 others are licenced to let on the complex and clean. All bookings however are put through the onsite management keys are picked up at reception this works the hotel are happy with it the inspectors seemed to be happy they just insisted that all apartments were registered no one as far as i know has been fined for raising the own bookings on our complex this seems to work legal or not and the way forward David

  46. What is the Parliamentary process now then Janet? Can the Government just push through the draft wording unchanged and it becomes law, or is there some kind of vote?

  47. Author

    I don’t know for sure, Petra, but I think they have the numbers to force this through. It still needs to be clarified by reglamento though, to describe and define the clauses, and there’s clearly quite a bit of work still to do on that. I don’t know the detailed procedure, nor the timescale, though evidently they have only given themselves until May.

  48. It sounds to me like they will force it through and then tinker with it as it goes along and the inconsistencies and misinterpretations become apparent when things cannot be implemented. What a mess.

  49. Hello Janet, I have just read your update and I note that you mention that the new law will act to correct residentialism, (correct or redirect it) Surely someone must have a clear idea of what they indend to do with the tourist apartment owners who only use their apartments for residential use? Was this issue raised at any time within their discussions?

  50. Author

    I’ve posted all I know Ken. As I say, it is not clear what they mean and they seem in no hurry to clarify. As I posted, I know this is of great interest to everyone and as soon as I can offer anything clearer or more specific I will!

  51. Janet, sorry for bothering you again, but I wondered if the government are actually aware of the many tourist apartment owners who are worried about loosing the right to use their apartment for residential purposes? It seems that if they were to bring in such a law, that it would be seen by many as being a retrospective law that is extremely unjust and inhumane.

  52. Author

    Yes they are very aware. For all reports that Alotca is “doing nothing”, we have been very active in negotiations with the Government, including meeting the Canarian President himself. They know all the issues, and have moved slightly (we still don’t know exactly how much) on villas, but reject all other concerns out of hand. Negotiations continue, but we have to negotiate within the situation that we find.

    For what it’s worth, however, we have firm and clear legal opinion that they cannot mean to evict people from living in their own tourist apartments, and that if they were by some chance to mean that, then it would be capable of challenge under the Spanish constitution.

  53. Thanks Janet, this is very much appreciated.

  54. I’m wondering if they are going to include something around restricting residential letting on tourist or ex-tourist complexes. This would encourage more people to let to tourists, while still allowing people to live in their own apartment. Just have to wait and see and hope for sanity and clarity.

  55. If a Touristic Sole Agent is sitting on exactly 50% + 1 to make him legal and 1 person decides to remove their property from the agent and stop letting, how long would the agent have to make himself legal and what would happen if he couldn’t get the 1 property he needed ??

  56. Author

    As things stand, I don’t think much would happen. I think they have quite a few agents registered who are no longer agents properly speaking, for one reason or another. Whether things are tightened up under the forthcoming legislation is another matter.

  57. Thanks Janet, I was just wondering following a question on another forum.

  58. Author

    You’re welcome … assuming you mean TF, John Parkes (Loaded) will have a more detailed idea than me, I would think.

  59. Thanks for the update Janet. I am over in Fuerteventura at the moment, so haven’t been keeping up with events. Can’t say I am surprised that they are trying to schedule in more amendments – there just doesn’t seem to be much consensus, particularly around those two areas.

  60. Hello Janet
    This does sound like good news for villas. Does this mean that they can be privately and independently rented out, without the need for some sort of sole agent. If they can be rented out without a sole agent, then does that not destroy the arguments for an apartment sole agent. Surely an apartment owner is just as capable as a villa owner when arranging & managing rentals.

  61. Author

    As I said, I’m afraid, we’ll have to wait until at least Tuesday for the final detail … but no, I would think not. Apartments are already automatically governed by the law of horizontal division, i.e. one construction subdivided. No such existing framework covers independent villas so I can see that the two could be treated as entirely separate entities. None the less, it’s possible that some grouping will be required for villas. BUT we won’t have the detail until we have the final law …

  62. Janet, thanks for the response, I suppose villas within a community complex may be required to appoint a sole agent, but others will probably be treated as separate and therefore stand alone regarding private rentals.

  63. Janet do you know the reasoning behind a 100/200 metre exclusion area?

  64. Author

    “know”, no, but it’ll be connected with a band reserved for hotels and the like, I would imagine.

  65. So what would be the point in preventing existing 5 star villas which are within the 100/200 exclusion zone from holiday letting?

  66. Author

    The point would be to protect and prioritize the hotels …

  67. Right I think I’ve got it now.

    “If you want to holiday in a villa close to the sea, go somewhere else in the world as we don’t want you.”

  68. IP,
    The same if you can not afford a Villa but want a 5* Apartment the only sad thing unemployment will carry on rising

  69. Having read what looks like virtually the final law (article 29) which relates to condominiums I am still totally baffled as to what the intention is. It is clear that the sole agent system remains the bedrock of the situation but I cannot work out how this affects those of us who own in touristic complexes, who do not rent (or wish to).
    I have had a few conversations with Jose about private useage of our apartment and I am holding onto the fact that he was confident that the new legislation would (or could) force us to rent or prevent us from unrestricted use.
    As usual Janet we will all be relying on you for your views and advice – although clearly this will take some time to assimilate.

  70. Author

    Yes, thank you Phillip, it really will take a little while … not least because there’s so much else going on too. As ever, it’ll be as soon as I am humanly able to do so …

  71. Hello Phillip
    I assume you meant to say would not (or could not)

  72. Sorry Ken I did mean to say ‘could not.’ In fact Jose did say that any attempt to prevent an owner having unrestricted use of their own property would not only breach human rights laws but also cause a situation similar to what happened in Santa Cruz when the banks were evicting mortgage defaulters and people took to the streets in protest!!
    There are many interesting scenarios if aparthotels have to use all accommodation for touristic use as our complex has virtually 50% owners and many live there – the hotel would have to be full to recoup all those lost community fees if every owner had to let. I do believe that the legislation probably includes clauses that does not allow long term lets by owners in touristic complexes but to be honest the actual wording is really hard to understand…….come in Janet!!!!!

  73. Hello Phillip
    Thanks for the prompt response. Our community complex is mixed with timeshare, aparthotel, along with privately owned apartments many used for private residential & holiday homes. We were advised by our community lawyer that neither the existing or the proposed new laws, could stop owners from residential use. I trust everyone is still of that opinion, but like you I hope the wording within the new laws don’t suggest otherwise.

  74. I think this is inevitably going to be the biggest area of confusion. Ex-holiday complexes have been sold off and now consist of a mixture of owner occupiers, long-term renters, holiday home owners and ‘a-legal’ tourist lets. In our complex in Fuerteventura we have a bit of everything and a majority of nothing. It is extremely problematic that we may have to choose to be one thing or another, when the whole way we operate is as a ‘mixed’ complex, both residential and touristic.

    But to cover the additional costs of upgrades, 24 hour reception, lifeguard whatever and generate profits for a sole agent, we would need most apartments signed up for tourist lets. It will also probably double our existing monthly community fees. That is unlikely to happen, so the alternative is to stay as we are and not re-apply for our tourist licence, but that means that the holiday let owners continue to operate illegally and risk being fined.

    The authorities have allowed this situation to develop when aparthotels closed down and sold off all their units. They seem to think that apartment owners on ex-touristic complexes are all micro investors, when really that is not the case at all.

    We really need some sensible options to enable individual apartment owners on tourist designated land to keep renting their apartments to tourists, but without having to drag the rest of the non-renting owners along with them. We probably only have around 20 apartments out of 130 in our complex that are rented to tourists. We do not need a 24 hour reception and a lifeguard for that number and the pool area is already fenced off. There should obviously be certain quality and safety standards that have to be met, the same as on other fully legal touristic apartment complexes and individual owners would have to meet these to get a licence in the same way as the villas. But the hotel add-on facilities are simply not required.

    I don’t think there’s any chance of this happening, but these are my thoughts!

  75. The problem we have Petra is that we are in an established Aparthotel with all the facilities of an Hotel (which is why we bought a holiday home there). There are about 400 apartments and about half of these are owned and many people do live in them. The biggest issue is the fact that the sole agent, who is the same one for the whole chain of these hotels, has a scheme whereby you can only use the apartment for six weeks per year (and only at certain times) and you have to put the apartment back to how the hotel rooms are. Clearly, most owners have fully refurbished to high standards and will have no desire to do this! The payment for the rentals is then – they pay the community fees, maintenance and cleaning and you then recieve a minimal amount….and I mean minimal!
    This basically means that if you do hand over to the sole agent you literally only have a time-share apartment which is unsaleable and unuseable. We have friends who would be happy to deal with a reasonable sole agent but they are not prepared to hand over their investment in these circumstances….who would?
    All that is needed is a model standard for sole agency that was fair to both parties but I suppose this is not going to happen.

  76. Might this framework include houses in rural towns/areas as well as ‘villas’, do you know? Assuming of course that the Canaries are still interested in promoting rural tourism… Would owners have to apply somewhere for the plot to be reclassified? And, of course, as another way of them making extra money, it’s likely to cost owners presumably. Hoping this info might be available by Tuesday maybe? Thanks.

  77. Author

    I don’t know Anne … will try to cover that in my response when I have time to study it and reply …

  78. Yeah Phillip, the lack of regulation of sole agents can create a bit of a nightmare . . . and it’s not so easy to get a bad one out and a good one in. It’s a difficult area, they are trying to run a profitable business, but people want to use their own apartment and make an income. It’s not always that compatible is it. I think if more people had been aware of the sole agency aspect of the 1995 legislation, as well as the residential or touristic status of property, many would not have been as keen to buy. But the messaging at the time from developers and estate agents was that you could cover your mortgage costs by renting out and benefit from a rising property market as well. Now really you can’t do either. The rental profits aren’t really there unless you’re prepared to risk operating illegally and far from having a decent property investment, many people are now in negative equity.

    I bought a property because I love the island and I really don’t let anyone else use it. I never expected to make money. I just wish I’d waited a few years as I could have picked up the same property for 30 percent less, but that’s the risk you take.

  79. Hello Janet
    When does the new tourist laws actually come into force?
    I note the new laws comment on condominiums, are they for new builds or conversions from perhaps existing aparthotels and mixed use communities apartments/villas etc.
    I think for many individual apartment & villa owners the issue over new builds for 4 or 5 star hotels is of little importance.

  80. Author

    immediately, I understand. Haven’t had time to work out the detail yet, I’m afraid, but yes, I agree, for most of us the furore over hotels of any sort is unimportant. It says a lot about the detachment and lack of awareness of the government that it is so fixated on this issue. That’s the whole point of today’s update, of course, that the whole legislation is underpinned, and undermined, by a “conceptual failure”.

  81. I have read and read this and still cannot understand how it will affect those of us who own in a Touristic Aparthotel where there is a mix of owners and hotel rooms. I see there is reference to ‘Condominiums’ and some mention of 6 months and 3 months occupation but it is so hard to work out what it all actually means. We have never had a vote on the sole agency here and I can see all this causing mayhem in complexes such as ours where owners do already have long term lets in their apartments (as they cannot legally short term let, except through the sole agent who turns their apartment into a timeshare) and many people live in them.
    To try to turn existing complexes that are mixtures (regardless of what classicification the land was orignally) into either residential or touristic is crazy, even if there is an allowable transitional period. Many people have been seriously misled if they are now being told that they cannot long term let in a tourisitic complex as well as short term let – the worrying part is the lobby in Madrid now that seems to be heading in the same direction.
    I remember Jose saying to me some time ago that it would be good if owners all put massive for sale boards up in these complexes and then saw what effect that had on the tourisim model!
    I think I can feel another visit to Jose coming on just to try to get to the bottom of where we all go from here as all I want is unrestricted use of my own freehold property!

  82. Author

    My understanding was that “aparthotel” has not been an official category for some time now, having been abolished, with those properties previously classified as aparthotels becoming formally either apartment complexes or hotels.
    In terms of definitions, though, yes, it is lawyers who must interpret this law, not me.

  83. I have to say Janet that your knowledge of this matter does give considerably more credence to any views and interpretation you may put on it. The information you have provided on your website has been absolutely invaluable and should be appreciated by anyone involved in the whole sorry affair!

  84. Author

    That’s very kind, Phillip, thank you.

  85. Hello Janet
    Will the ALOTCA lawyers be offering a legal interpretation of the New Tourist Laws? in particular in relation to tourist apartments and if so will that be made public?

  86. Author

    That’s asking too much, Ken, I would think. It would be a huge task and would take an incredible amount of time … and to offer it generally for free. I don’t think it can be done. These are lawyers, after all, and their time is money, and they are paid for their professional opinion. I’ve provided an awful lot here free of charge, but a general purpose legal interpretation … that’s not on, really.

  87. Author

    One thing I can confirm right now and that is the tourism minister has this morning been explicit: residential property may not be let to tourists (already defined as lets of under 3 months), and the inspection programme against any such illegal letting is to be reinforced under the new law with fines imposed on anyone doing so.
    Also I can offer this from the law on villas – this is where much concern lies. Those covered by the law, and to be allowed to join the tourist offer are :
    con una densidad entre 10 y 40 unidades de alojamiento por hectárea, que no excederán del 40% de la superficie total neta del sector del suelo urbanizable de que se trate excluyendo espacios libres, viales y equipamiento, ni del 20% de la superficie total del suelo urbanizable turístico del municipio donde se pretenden establecer. Estas áreas delimitadas deberán emplazarse a una distancia no inferior a 200 metros de la línea límite del dominio público marítimo-terrestre, salvo que estén integradas en complejos hoteleros de cuatro o más estrellas y las villas se gestionen conjuntamente con ellos. Cuando las áreas estén emplazadas en zonas de acantilados deberán emplazarse como mínimo a 100 metros del veril. En todo caso, se reservarán preferentemente las localizaciones más valiosas por su contigüidad al mar para otros productos turísticos. (Artículo 31.1- Ordenación urbanística de las villas.)
    … En los suelos urbanos consolidados no se admitirá un porcentaje de plazas de alojamiento turístico dedicadas a villas superior al 30% del total del ámbito considerado. (Artículo 32.2- Transformación de usos residenciales en villas.)
    i.e. with a density between 10 and 40 units per hectare, not exceeding 40% of the particular urbanizable land excluding open spaces, walkways, etc., nor 20% of urbanizable tourist land in the given municipality. No less than 200m from the coast etc … 100 where clifftop. In consoldiated urban areas a maximum of 30% of tourist places can be villas.

  88. Janet, you say that Residential property may not be let….does this mean not let at all, even for periods over 3 months? Where can we get a translation of the document?

  89. Author

    Catherine sorry, assumed it would be clear … this is the tourism minister so he’s only concerned with tourism. I have edited the comment to include “to tourists (already defined as lets of under 3 months),” …
    As to a translation of the law, there isn’t one. You would need to pay a translator … and even then you wouldn’t have a legal “interpretation”.
    Another clause which has caused great concern is whether owners will be able to live in apartments which are or will be classified as touristic. The article of the law covering this is number 25, and it allows for intervention in areas that are currently mixed tourist and residential with the object “de encauzar su especialización en áreas de uso turístico exclusivo, de uso residencial exclusivo, o de compatibilidad” (of channeling its specialization into exclusively tourist use, OR of exclusive residential use, or “compatibility”).
    My own lay interpretation of this is that even if one has a property that is currently residential that were required to become touristic, there is nothing in the law that would prevent the owner living in it permanently (or letting it out on residential long lets). Forced touristic designation should only mean that the property becomes like a touristic one already is … i.e. that if it is to be rented out at all, it must be done through the sole agent.
    Several lawyers now have said that it cannot mean more than this, and that if “forced tourist classification” were treated as “forced tourist use” it would be in contravention of the Spanish Constitution.

  90. Hello Janet
    Many thanks again for the information, but I have another question are foreign owners who’s main residence is outwith Spain, are they covered by the Spanish Constitution?

  91. Author

    They are owners of a property in Spain and are within the jurisdiction of Spanish law. As such, within Spain let alone the EU, their rights cannot be violated.

  92. Janet,

    Have I got this right, law 25 is going to change complexes that are exclusively Tousistic into Touristic accomadation, as I have stated in the past our complex which is built on Touristic land but does not have a licence, is geared up for Tourism & does not have one single permanent resident living here can now be reclassified as Touristic by the Govt.

  93. On reading a few articles on the new laws they may introduce in Spain to better control letting to tourists, it sounds like they may be considering more of a licensing and inspection regime which could include apartments as well as individual properties. Doesn’t seem to be any mention yet of having to let your apartment through a sole agent, or indeed the need for a 24 hour reception – it seems a 24hr contact number may suffice. Will be interesting to see which way they go with this and to hear public opinion. Of course the Canaries can still be autonomous with their tourism laws, but maybe the mainland will be able to come up with a more thoroughly considered solution that actually meets both the needs of tourists of owners while ensuring safety and quality and the payment of appropriate taxes.

  94. Author

    M, I think so, but it will depend on several factors, it seems to me. Article 25 allows for “intervention” in areas that are currently mixed tourist and residential with the object “de encauzar su especialización en áreas de uso turístico exclusivo, de uso residencial exclusivo, o de compatibilidad” (of channeling its specialization into exclusively tourist use, OR of exclusive residential use, or “compatibility”). I am not qualified to interpret this in a way that you should rely on.

  95. Hi Janet
    Could you please explain the ‘exclusion area ” re Villa’s please. Does it mean Villa’s within 200 M from the coast cannot let or only those within 200 M of the coast.

  96. Author

    The 200m band is reserved for hotels and the like, so villas must be more than 200m away (100m if a clifftop area).

  97. Does this mean any villa more than 200 metres from the coast will be allowed to rent short term. If so how do you go about getting a licence?

  98. Author

    No. It means that only those villas placed more than 200m from the coast (100m if clifftop) will be able to be considered. They must still comply with the other definitions as I posted in a comment (not the main post) slightly up page. I’m sorry it’s not that clear but I’m just quoting the law and it’s as clear as I can make it!

  99. If you have read the law to say that you cannot rent a villa touristically
    What is the revalance of its situation 200m from the sea or not?

  100. Author

    Those which are more than 200m from the sea may, in certain circumstances, be converted into the tourist category. As I say in the comment above, the criteria which apply are:
    those with a density between 10 and 40 units per hectare, not exceeding 40% of the particular urbanizable land excluding open spaces, walkways, etc., nor 20% of urbanizable tourist land in the given municipality. No less than 200m from the coast etc … 100 where clifftop. In consoldiated urban areas a maximum of 30% of tourist places can be villas.

  101. Janet,

    If my property met this criteria, who would i go and see about obtaining a licence??

  102. Author

    I would say to see a lawyer, but I would leave it a short while until we get some clarity on interpretation.

  103. Thanks Janet, once again your web site and information is invaluable.

  104. Hi Janet

    All very interesting, thank you.
    Am I right in assuming that the ALOTCO lawyers are now going to refund the unused court fee part of the up-front payments that they took for the appeal process for those who accept the ‘advice’ of the judge?
    Are ALTCO ready to proceed to court for those who do not agree the settlement amount?

  105. Author

    As I said above or on another page to the same question, Wally, all the preparatory work for the appeal has already been done and there is perhaps now even more work ahead involved for negotiations that weren’t originally foreseen! But yes, they’ll fight for anyone who doesn’t want to be in the class action.

  106. Dear Janet,
    thank you for this comprehensive and useful information. I am currently looking to invest in free-standing tourist property on Lanzarote of the type Large Holiday Villa or Small Holiday Complex such as a Finca. Based on your information I understand that I must verify the type of Zone the land of the property is on AND if the property has a Tourist Licence in place. If not, what type of properties CAN still apply for a Licence and what type are likely to never get any? Except for the coastal-line rules which are clear, I don’t quite understand in how far 5* renovations, rural location, year of initial construction impact the chances for getting a Tourist Licence.
    I appreciate your answer. If this is too specific I don’t mind to contact a trustworthy lawyer, which you might be able to recommend?

  107. Author

    Yes, Rena, you need to check everything is in place to begin with … because if it’s not, then you will be very unlikely to get permission. The only properties to be given a licence will be 4* and 5* star hotels. Those properties currently classed as “residential” have, and will have, no chance, apart from some villas … and the situation with regard to them is still not totally clear, so not worth taking a chance when clarification is still to come. If you would like to speak to a lawyer, I would recommend José Escobedo and Santiago Saenz who form Tenerife Litigation, but there is also THIS Alotca-associated lawyer in the eastern province of the Canaries.

  108. Hi Janet

    We would like to buy a lend in Fuetreventura, my question is what is the chance to get a tourist licence for the urbanb land (or we need to look a diferent type of land) to make a Glamping spot on it. Also with all sport activities offer, you can do on the island
    Thank you and kind regards

  109. Author

    At present, potential changes of land designations are somewhat unclear because the new law is still waiting full interpretation from the Government. At the very least you would need to proceed with immense caution, and with a lawyer not just qualified in conveyancing, but in tourism legislation as well.

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