Hundreds of owners of tourist apartments in the Canary Islands have been relieved of nearly £1,900 fines each and sanction proceedings.
The building owners had been issued with the sanctions for using their properties on tourist complexes for residential purposes. In some cases, they resided in the apartments themselves – while in others they rented them independently.
Doing so without a tour operator or management company went against requirements of the “principle of tourist exploitation” in the 1995 Tourism Planning Law. However, an association against the law says it is being applied to properties that have “never been used for tourist exploitation.”
More than 40,000 property owners were potentially impacted by the new law. Many faced potential fines of £1,878 (€2,200).
Tourism Minister Jessica de León yesterday announced the government intends to nullify the fines on property owners.
Maribé Doreste, the president of the platform “Those Affected by the Tourism Law” (PALT), blasted the move, describing it as “absurd”.
She said there is a need for a law “that finally allows each owner to do what they want with their property”.
She added: “It’s good that they are stopping the fines, but what they should do is repeal the rules that punish people and force them to hand over the management of their property to a third party.”
When the fines were announced last month, she commented: “The problem is that they are applying a recent and modern law to properties, in some cases, that have been used in a certain way for more than 50 years that have never been used for tourist exploitation.”
The government has requested affected municipalities to consolidate the regulations through a provisional ordinance to temporarily suspend the penalties, a process that could be implemented in the coming months.
Fines began to be issued in April of last year, reported Canarian Weekly.
They followed an addition to the 1995 law in 2013, in which the Tourism Renewal and Modernisation Law of the Canary Islands incorporated the provision that “residential use shall not be given to accommodation units, with their commercial and tourist nature prevailing over any other purpose.”
The contentious issues impacts all of the islands, though Gran Canaria and Lanzarote are understood to be the most affected. They have the highest concentration of apartments compared to Tenerife, where over 60 percent of accommodation is hotel-based.