More fines in the largest plot of illegal tourist flats in Barcelona

The Barcelona City Council is increasing the pressure on the most important plot of illegal tourist flats that has been detected in the city.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
31 March 2024 Sunday 11:19
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More fines in the largest plot of illegal tourist flats in Barcelona

The Barcelona City Council is increasing the pressure on the most important plot of illegal tourist flats that has been detected in the city. After beginning at the end of the year the processing of a record penalty of 600,000 euros to the alleged mastermind of the network with more than 70 apartments in the Eixample and Ciutat Vella, the management of the municipal inspection services is keeping an eye on the collaborators of this framework, in them phantom tenants. We are talking about fifteen coercive fines of 10,000 euros each.

The inspectors argue that for years these people have been getting homes that they divide into apartments that they offer by the day through vacation rental platforms. And, when the inspectors issue penalty warnings, they reply that the apartment is rented by another person, that the person responsible for subletting it to tourists is the tenant, that here is the contract that proves it... Some of the phantom tenants they live abroad, but have several rented flats in Barcelona.

After the initiation of that record fine, residents of the estates where the apartments in the plot are located assured that they were still seeing tourists. These people already have 88 cease-and-desist orders. "Once the processing of the fines is finished, we will assess the effect, if the illegal activity has ceased - explain the City Council inspectors-. Then we will assess the opportunity to impose more fines or resort to the sealing of the flats". The problem is that these multi-infringers are very professional, they do not shy away from the administration, they take advantage of the system's guarantor nature. In fact, the City Council is still finalizing the processing of the endless allegations they submitted to that fine of 600,000 euros.

But the pressure has effects. These people are now trying to get rid of some of the apartments that, according to the same inspectors, provided them with about two million every year. And, above all, these people want to get rid of 16 Carrer Giralt el Pellisser. In the end, they found this candy after the Santa Caterina market. They bought it last spring for 1,600,000 euros. And since then the tenants accuse them of real estate mobbing, of trying to evict them from the flats to turn them into illegal tourist apartments, of doing the same thing they already did to the neighboring estates... " We continue seeing tourists come in and out with suitcases, but in a more discreet way”.

As detailed by La Vanguardia on other occasions, after the City Council stopped illegal renovation works that left the building marked by disturbing cracks, a number of alleged squatters took up residence on two of the floors. And one morning the television antenna cable woke up cut. On the stairs insults and threats became everyday. Some of these alleged squatters even admitted to the neighbors that they were there to harass them, to make them loosen up, which had already been the case on other occasions. And a report from the fire brigade concluded that the successive floods that ruined a few roofs and walls were intentional, which are an indication of real estate harassment.

"And, suddenly - the neighbors continue - recently, when they were already 10, when they had even started renting beds, they took the microwave and played the two". So sad it was scaring away potential buyers of the property. Who will spend two million on a half-renovated block, pointed out and with bugs? Bitxos is the sector's way of referring to tenants who don't want to leave. The people here have just discovered some work done from the farm behind. They suspect that they are trying to open a hole for an elevator. In real estate circles they say that yes, it is an attractive property, but it is considered problematic. One of the for-sale ads details the dates on which the neighbors' leases expire.

In addition, this story has already become a political issue. As a result of all this, the municipal government and the ERC councilors signed a pact to curb real estate harassment in Barcelona. Oriol Junqueras himself visited the affected tenants. The problem is that the City Council's action against real estate harassment seems rather erratic. Proving these practices is more complicated than proving the illegal tourist rental of a home. And the passage of time always hurts tenants more. They are the ones who always end up losing, the ones who lose sleep.

The case is already in court, but in a preliminary phase. These diligences are always slow. And municipal sources point out that, as long as there is an open criminal case, the City Council cannot start an administrative process for the same reason. The Consistory has tools to impose fines of up to 900,000 euros for real estate harassment, but these processes rarely end in an effective sanction. Right now, several municipal areas are trying to clarify what strategy they adopt. The neighbors these days, after the alleged squatters have left, are much calmer, but sometimes they feel helpless. They feel that enduring so much suffering for a year and so will be in vain. "Sometimes we are so tired that for a moment you think we should have taken the 3,000 euros they offered us to leave in less than 15 days, but we have our lives in this neighborhood. We don't want to leave, in this city it's free to make people's lives miserable?"