Thousands of unregistered holiday apartments in Spain face shutdown amid new tourist tax laws

luxury spanish summer residence with beautiful garden and swimming pool in Majorca, Spain.
-Credit: (Image: Getty/FLASHPOP)

Spain is set to see thousands of holiday rentals shut down as part of a new crackdown on tourist tax evaders.

The Balearic government has passed a decree allowing local councils and town halls to close off illegal holiday rentals. Unregistered tourist apartments and villas, whose landlords are not paying Spain's mandatory tourist tax, will be sealed off.

This comes after data suggested there might be up to 8,700 illegal holiday lets in the Balearics alone.

Inspectors now have the power to seal off properties found to be operating illegally, with local authorities also wanting police forces to assist in the inspections. The wide-ranging decree covers numerous issues, including 46 law changes in total.

These include measures relating to nature conservation, waste, roads and tourism, reports the Mirror. According to one report, there has been a near 10 percent increase in the number of holiday lets in Spain in the past year.

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Over 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Majorca
Over 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Majorca -Credit:Getty/Alexandr Spatari

Just last weekend, over 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Majorca - the largest island of the Balearics - demanding 'immediate measures' from the government to tackle tourist overcrowding.

Tensions between locals and tourists have been escalating in parts of Spain recently, with residents claiming that the surge in tourist numbers has caused rent prices to skyrocket and contributed to a housing shortage, reports Birmingham Live.

The Banc de Temps de Sencelles community group, which led the charge in the protest, delivered a manifesto to local officials outlining seven key actions to ensure more affordable housing for locals.

They're also pushing for new laws that would limit foreign nationals from purchasing property in the Balearic Islands - including Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca, and Formentera - unless they have lived there for at least five years.

While tourism is a vital part of the islands' economy, accounting for around 45 percent of their income, the manifesto calls for a 'controlled' approach to tourism that doesn't overshadow their way of life. The group made it clear they are not anti-tourism, saying: "We have to rethink the tourism model."

The protests seem to be making waves, as evidenced by the unusually quiet streets of Magaluf this half term. Recent photos show the popular Majorcan resort town experiencing a significant fall in tourist numbers, causing concern among local business owners about the reduced footfall.

Photographs from May 27 paint a bleak picture of the usually bustling town, with sunbeds lying empty and bars missing their patrons. The images emerge in the wake of protests that swept through Palma, Majorca's capital, where demonstrators called for immediate government intervention to tackle the housing crisis and the effects of mass tourism.

Bar proprietors are now fretting over the possibility that the "wishes of anti-tourism protesters [have been] granted".

The local publication, Majorca Daily Bulletin, has voiced its concerns regarding Magaluf's noticeable drop in activity, describing it as "unusually quiet" on Monday and suggesting it was "half empty if that". Business owners are reportedly anxious about the lack of tourists, although some say the area remains lively on weekends.

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