In an effort to protect tourists from scams and encourage more ethical travel, Barcelona tourism authorities have launched a new website where you can ensure any apartment you rent in the city is registered.
Fairtourism.barcelona is an initiative from the city council to crack down on the increasing number of illegal tourist rentals. You can search the address of the flat online and, if it doesn’t appear, you know it’s illegal. The website also makes it easy to report an illegal rental as they emphasise they harm “the city itself, as it creates speculation and illicit economies and its activities leave nothing positive for local neighbours, causing nuisance and complaints.”
As well cross-referencing online, there are other ways to spot the rental is illegal, including if the owner telling you not to answer the door while there or encouraging you to say it belongs to a friend. The name on your rental agreement may also not match the name of the person listed on the website.
The city council is encouraging both residents and tourists to report any apartment they have suspicions about operating illegally, even if they’ve stayed there in the past or are currently residing there. It’s unlikely your stay will be affected by a report and, if it is, the council will provide you with alternative accommodation.
As well as providing a more sustainable form of tourism to the city, it will also help ensure fewer people are scammed by fake apartment listings prior to their visit. Staying in official tourist apartments also gives you more access to rights, including a 24-hour support line that will assist you with any complaints or help you resolve problems. Owners of legal flats also have an obligation to maintain a level of care and service.
An increasing amount of illegal tourist apartments have cropped up in recent years as no new licenses for tourist flats have been issued since 2014. While Airbnb no longer allows unlicensed properties to advertise on its site, other websites still continue to do so. As well as encouraging overcrowding, illegal flats also lead to an increase in rent for locals, with some areas of the city suffering from depopulation.