I’m reproducing in full the following letter which I received yesterday. It is a warning to those who are letting out their properties privately, and I hope it will also be read by at least some of those responsible for the current legislation to see what effects it is having. Naturally, I am publishing this letter anonymously to safeguard the owner’s identity.
My husband and I decided to buy our own villa as our private holiday home near the beach in a touristic area in Costa Adeje a few years ago. We were taking on a big financial commitment but we thought that if we could let some weeks out when we were not there it would help towards the general running costs. When we were looking to buy a property all the estate agents and letting agents we spoke to were selling property as holiday homes to let and associated services. Even trusted lawyers didn’t mention the touristic letting law to us. All the people we dealt with advised us that we could let our property to tourists with no mention of any legal implications. We had no reason to doubt the information we were given since hundreds of thousands of other property owners were letting their private holiday homes it was reasonable to assume that there wouldn’t be a problem.
Of course since the onslaught by the tourist office we have become enlightened to this law and find that we have indeed engaged in illegal activity without knowledge nor intention and we may be liable to fines if caught out. As soon as we became aware of the situation we immediately made an attempt to do the right thing in correcting our position by making enquiries regarding a touristic licence only to find the tourist office were not issuing any licences. Furthermore they had not renewed or issued any licences for some five years thereby resulting in many owners with letting illegally without intention.
As highly respected law abiding professionals it was our intention to respect the law of the island we loved and make Tenerife our second home. We had absolutely no intention of engaging in any illegal activity whatsoever.
Due to the recent activity of the tourist office and global news of frightening and highly disproportionate fines we have had an experience that you may find interesting.
Last year we accommodated a seemingly nice couple who were clearly aware of the widely publicised fines and that no licences have been issued. Following their holiday at our villa and an unreasonable dispute about a neighbour, they asked for the number of our touristic licence and details of our sole exploitation agents. They know we don’t have these because no licences have been issued. We will be reported to the tourist office unless they receive a full refund for their holiday therefore we have no option but to give a full refund to these ruthless greedy people and hope they don’t report us. I feel certain this is a direct result of public knowledge of the disproportionate fines. People with a grudge can use the fear of a conviction and a frightening fine to extract money from anybody letting a holiday home in Tenerife.
With great sadness we have now reluctantly placed our beautiful holiday home on the market and we can’t sell it fast enough. When the property is sold we shall look for another holiday home in a different destination. We shall invest, spend and support the economy in another island or country. Tenerife has caused us too much stress. We have had no protection or support and as a result we no longer feel welcome here. This is not the reason why we invested in a holiday home.
We will be sad to leave the island but we feel extremely let down by the authorities that have acted unfairly. It is the island we had hoped our family would spend many months each year for decades to come, we didn’t expect to be made to feel like criminals and live under the threat of legal proceedings, embargo’s and outrageous fines.
We fully understand the need to regulate the tourism industry however the government brought in the tourism legislation 1995 without a supporting law regulating estate agents and letting agents to protect naive and trusting property investors from being misled when investing in property on the Island. Furthermore, the tourist office has not been operating fairly. In refusing to issue licences they have placed our family, together with many thousands of good law abiding people in a vulnerable and worrying position.