The New Basque Tourism Law 2016: What homeowners need to know

On 31 August 2016 the Basque Country became the latest region in Spain to implement new tourism law regulations.  It affects not only holiday rental properties, but homeowners that rent out rooms on a short term basis as well.

Tourism Law

According to the Basque Country Government, the purpose of this law is “to homogenise the quality of holiday rentals for tourist purposes, to protect homeowners and to create a fair market in the industry.”

Chapter III of the new Law 13/2016 of 28 July aims to regulate all types of tourist accommodation, from the more traditional such as hotels, B&Bs, hostals, guesthouses and campsites, to more modern types of holiday accommodation such as self-catering properties, rooms in private homes, even mobile homes and tree cabins.

Section 8 of Chapter III of Ley 13/2016 deals specifically with holiday rental properties and room rentals. This legislation rules that holiday rental properties must be registered in the Basque Country Tourism Register. Previously, holiday rental properties were governed by the Urban Property Law – Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (LAU).

The new regulation has been criticised that it was brought into effect quickly, and also that it is too broad with legal loopholes.

The new law states as follows:

  • The property owner must submit a self-certified declaration to the Basque Country Tourism Administration – la Administracion Turistica de Pais Vasco - in order to be allowed to rent out for holiday purposes.  Without such a declaration, any rental activity will be considered illegal.
  • The property must be registered in the Basque Country Tourism Register – el Registro de Empresas y Actividades Turisticas de Pais Vasco.
  • A holiday rental property is defined by any property that is advertised or marketed via any holiday rental or property rental medium for a period of 31 days or less, or more than twice per year.
  • The property must have first occupation license – licencia de primera ocupacion - or certificate of occupancy – cedula de habitabilidad.
  • Holiday rental properties shall be kept in perfect condition and maintained as per the requirements for its categorization and registration.
  • The property must meet the requirements in infrastructure, urban planning, building and construction, security, relative to the environment, consumers and health, hygiene and/ health in compliance prevention of occupational risks, and, where applicable, those required by other legislation that is applicable.
  • Owners must register all holidaymakers with the police.

Compared to other Tourism Laws that have been implemented in recent times in Spain, such as Andalusia and Catalonia Tourism Laws, the Basque Country tourism law seems relatively straightforward and easy to implement.