Barcelona City Council has started 4 proceedings to fine the platforms Airbnb and HomeAway, 2 against each company, for advertising homes which were not registered with the Catalan Tourism Register (RTC) (30,000 euros), and for not responding to demands from the administration requesting details on homes advertised without RTC numbers (30,000 euros). The fines are the first fines resulting from measures announced in summer to tackle illegal tourist accommodation and the measures being developed by City Council to reduce the negative impact of tourism in the city.
As previously announced, City Council has instructed 22 digital platforms offering tourist accommodation (HUT) to comply with obligations set out in Law 13/2002, from 21 June, by Turisme de Catalunya. The platforms are required to supply data identifying owners putting accommodation on offer on their sites and are reminded of the obligation to specify the RTC number of each rented home in its corresponding advertisement.
In order to tighten control of the process, Barcelona City Council has a web crawler solution, whereby an automated programme or script methodically inspects the World Wide Web and conducts online monitoring of the range of existing HUT on offer on platforms and sites which do not specify RTC numbers.
To put the new tool to the test, of all the platforms in operation the detection process was used to monitor the two platforms with the greatest offer, HomeAway and Airbnb. Both were found to be advertising several HUT without specifying their RTC numbers, leading to the proceedings which are now in place. In both cases, based on the number of adverts published (3,929 in the case of HomeAway and 1,891 in the case of Airbnb), the prior warning and the dominant market position of both companies, the fines have been set at the maximum amount possible of 30,000 euros.
According to the Deputy Mayor for Ecology, Urban Planning and Mobility, Janet Sanz: “The aim of fining operators is not the fine itself, but rather to stop illegal activity which is disturbing local residents”.
Ciutat Vella introduces identification plaques
On Monday, the Ciutat Vella district started to install identification plaques for licensed tourist accommodation in the Barceloneta neighbourhood. The plaques will go in the door jamb of each rented flat and will display their licence number and a 24 hour contact phone number these homes are obliged to have.
The Councillor for the Ciutat Vella district, Gala Pin, explained: “This is an initiative by residents themselves and if it is well-received it will be extended to the rest of the district and the whole city”.