Peer-to-peer accommodation sharing platform Airbnb is expected to refer new laws limiting flat rentals in the Balearics to the European Union.

A crackdown by the Spanish island’s government started this week with a new licensing law brought in that it is hoped will reduce the number of beds available on the islands.

People who offer flats for rent illegally could face fines of up to €400,000 as the islands look to limit the impact of tourism on the local housing market.

However, the move has drawn criticism from those who see it an attack on the main industry of the islands and one that will reduce supply and choice and drive up prices.

The legislation introduces a limit of 623,624 beds for tourists and there is a plan to cut that by a further 120,000 over the next few years.

Airbnb told the Majorca Daily Bulletin the new law restricts the free market and it would refer the new law to the European Union.

Patrick Robinson, Airbnb’s director of public policy, said: “The new rules in the Balearic Islands are complex and confusing, and don’t distinguish between local families sharing their homes and professional operators running a business.”

The site added: “Big hotels have been clear that they are concerned about losing the opportunity to price gouge consumers. We want to work with governments to help spread tourism benefits to many, not keep them in the hands of a few.”

Airbnb claims the Balearics economy was boosted by €550 million from people listing their accommodation in its site. It said there were 15,800 active listings in Majorca and 2,000 in Ibiza city last year.

A Brit who rents flats in Majorca told The Times:  “What the local government is doing is half-witted — this is a tourist island, nothing else makes money.

“They want cheaper apartments for the workers but the workers won’t have any jobs left at this rate.”

The crackdown on the sharing economy for holiday rentals comes amid growing concern about the sustainability of mass tourism that is said to be pricing locals and seasonal workers out of the housing market.

Spain has seen a small number of isolated anti-tourism protests in recent weeks in the Balearics and Barcelona from anti-capitalist groups and more have been promised.


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