For decades owners of properties on Lanzarote have been forced to offer their villas and apartments for rent to holidaymakers in an unregulated market place, largely as a result of the power exerted over local politicians by the hotel chains, who have for years been a major source of funds.
Currently it is technically against the law to offer your private property for let, and if denounced owners can face fines. However for many years these laws have gone largely unenforced, indicating a real reluctance on the part of the local tourist authorities to stamp out this important source of tourist visitor numbers.
In many ways lawmakers are now simply coming to terms with the reality of the situation. Over the last 20 years the holiday makers has changed, with many tourist tiring of the predictable and often bland business model of the hotel chains in favour of something more authentic can personalised instead. This phenomenon has not been restricted to Lanzarote or the Canary Islands alone either, as over this period website such as Owners Direct and Holiday Lettings have blossomed, with private owners stepping into the market to pick up the slack and deal with this demand.
It’s hard to put a figure on just how many tourists are currently staying in unregulated privately owned holiday accommodation but many estimate that there are around 10,000 properties currently being used for this purpose on the island. And a cursory glance at any of the aforementioned rental websites certainly reveals that thousands are using their services. So it would seem fair to assume that private holiday rentals now account for around 20% of all visits.
As well as giving locals and property owners the chance to benefit directly from tourism this has also helped to create plenty of revenue in related sectors, such as car hire, restaurants and excursions. And whilst the local tourist bodies are obviously keen to maintain accommodation standards they have until now been slow to recognise the importance of this sector.
Now it seems that draft legislation is in the pipeline which will finally bring a degree of regulation to the market by introducing licensing for approved properties. So if you are thinking about buying a property on Lanzarote this year it would be worth bearing in mind that only certain types of property rental are likely to be approved.
Current reports suggest that licences will only be given to rent out whole properties, so villas with say a guest apartment could fall foul of the new regime. Equally apartments will only be approved for rental if they are located on a licensed complex or a community where the majority of owners have agreed that tourist lets are acceptable.