Barcelona residents declare war on Airbnb and spell out problem of Airbnb type holiday rentals, Locals booked unlicensed accommodation using the site then called city officials to complain

Barcelona residents fed up with the massive increase in illegal apartment lets in the city through holiday accommodation websites such as Airbnb.

Barcelona residents declare war on Airbnb. Last week as part of an ongoing campaign of protest, the members of two local protest groups in the Catalan capital city set a trap and rented a holiday apartment near the city’s cathedral using Airbnb. They picked up the keys, entered the accommodation and then called the town hall asking them to arrange an inspection of the property.

Municipal Inspectors who turned up to carry out a spot check confirmed the owner of the apartment had also advertised four other properties on Airbnb and did not have the necessary license to rent the apartments. The officials said, That owner would now be banned from renting out the apartments.

A spokesperson for one of the groups involved, the Association of Neighbors for Sustainable Tourism (ABTS), Daniel Pardo, said the purpose of Tuesday’s protest was to highlight “the damaging effects of the proliferation of holiday apartments in the city and the impunity of Airbnb.”

The presence of those apartments in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations was squeezing out locals because it was pushing rents up and turning local communities into theme parks, Pardo said.

The activist highlighted the “complicity of Airbnb” saying the company “knows who has a license and who doesn’t but prefers not to make distinctions so as to exploit everybody and make money for large property owners”.

Barcelona is the fifth most popular Airbnb destination globally and receives almost 9 million visitors annually.

Airbnb knows who has a license to rent out apartments and who doesn’t but prefers not to make distinctions

DANIEL PARDO, ASSOCIATION OF NEIGHBORS FOR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM (ABTS)

The online accommodation portal “defends the sharing economy but is actually speculative”, Pardo said. Any property owners found using the site in an illegal manner should be banned, he concluded.

Around 40 percent of Barcelona’s 16,000 holiday apartments are rented out illegally by sites such as Airbnb, according to figures from the city’s town hall.

In July, Barcelona City Hall decided to tackle the problem by introducing a €1.3 million raft of measures to crack down on owners letting out apartments using sites like Airbnb without a license. The authorities set up a website and called on residents to report apartments being rented out illegally. As of mid-August around 500 complaints have been made.

But Airbnb has defended itself by saying European legislation does not require accommodation sites to systematically monitor for illegal activity on the part of owners. The responsibility for that falls instead to local authorities.