How do I know if a tourist apartment is legal?

apartamento turístico legal o ilegal, ¿Cómo proceder?As Isabel already owned her own house, she planned to rent out the studio she had inherited from her parents. It seemed like the perfect plan to earn a little extra money. She quickly posted the property on several platforms, a priori it met the requirements for hundreds of tourists to stay there in the summer. What could possibly go wrong? She quickly realised that it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Faults, noise, parties, complaints from her neighbours and, as if that wasn’t enough, a neighbour reported her for not having the property registered with the tourist office. It had got out of control. Nobody had told Isabel what she had to do to declare her flat as a legal, tourist property to be rented out. So, in this article, we tell you when a tourist property is legal or illegal and what steps to take.

When is a tourist apartment legal?

Local municipal regulations

In order for a flat to be declared a tourist flat and for you to be able to rent it out legally, you must first of all check whether it falls under local municipal regulations, because even if an Autonomous Community has authorised a property as a tourist flat, the local council might forbid it. Some cities, faced by the massive growth in numbers of this type of properties, have forbidden them in some specific districts or areas.

You may well ask: How can a tourist flat be authorised by the Autonomous Community but forbidden by the local council? There are two possible reasons:

  • The Autonomous Community does not cross-reference data, i.e. it doesn’t know that the flat is in an area where tourist properties are forbidden.
  • Or this regulation was made after the authorisation from the Autonomous Community was granted.

In the case of Madrid, the Autonomous Community allows tourist rental with just an entry in the registry. However, the City Council has trialled a plan to regulate tourist flats and in order to obtain a licence, the rental flat must have separate access from the other neighbours in the property. Therefore, properties that are being rented out that have a registry code from the Autonomous Community but do not have a licence from the City Council are infringing the municipal regulations of Madrid.

Register it and disclose the activity

Once you understand this and have complied with the regulations, you must register the flat and disclose your activity to the council or the tourism department of your Autonomous Community. Without the relevant authorisation, the flat will be considered to be illegal and you will not be allowed to list it on any advertising portal.

The following requirements will be taken into account when granting your licence:

  • Having a civil liability insurance that covers damage to third parties caused by the use and enjoyment of the property.
  • Having complaint forms available.
  • Having a contact telephone number 24 hours a day to deal with any emergency.
  • The property must have heating and air conditioning.

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 How do I register a property?

If you are the owner of the property, you must submit the following to the tourist board in your Autonomous Community:

  1. A declaration of responsibility with your identification details and those of the property, also confirmation that it has a certificate of habitability and that it meets the requirements of the current legislation in each Autonomous Community.
  2. A favourable urban compatibility report issued by the Council, which includes a code (CSV) which makes it possible to check the integrity and authenticity of electronic documents.

Once this documentation has been submitted, the property is entered into the registry of tourist properties and will be available to be rented for tourist use.

How do I check a tourist registry? 

Should you have any problems while you are staying in a tourist flat, you can check its registration number in the corresponding registry of the autonomous community, and feel confident that you are completely protected by the law.

Some of the bodies that regulate the properties for tourist use have a directory where you can check the legal tourist establishments in their territory. This is the case in:

Valencian Community





If there is not a similar public directory in your Community, you can always ask directly at the regional tourist office whether a particular establishment is legal or not.

How to prohibit tourist flats in a Community of Property owners

The Horizontal Property Law provides for prohibiting or restricting tourist rental.

If the Community of Property Owners wants to prohibit or restrict tourist rentals, this must be established in the Foundational Deed or the Statutes. Failing this, they can only be limited by a resolution passed by the Community.

To approve a ban on tourist rentals in the Community, 3/5 of all the owners representing 3/5 of the ownership shares must vote for it. This has changed, previously it required the unanimous vote of all the owners.

Whether it is restricted by the Community or not, in order to use a property for tourist rental you must have authorisation from the corresponding regional administration.

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How to report illegal tourist apartments

When neither the Statutes nor a resolution prohibits tourist rentals

If tourist rentals are not prohibited in the Statutes and it has not been possible to amend them, any resident who becomes aware of an illegal tourist apartment can report it to the council or the tourist office in their Autonomous Community. These bodies will then initiate a procedure to investigate and, where appropriate, sanction, which could involve closing the activity down and imposing an administrative fine on the owner. 

When the Statutes or a resolution do restrict tourist rentals.

If the Community has forbidden tourist rentals in the building, but there is an owner who is doing this, the Community can bring an action for an injunction on the activity as is established in article 7.2 of the LPH.



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