Local Accommodation Barcelona


8 min read

How to become a property manager in Spain

by Jaime Garín, Barcelona Market Manager

Published April 20, 2023


The so-called "traditional" long-term rental has lost interest among owners in recent years because of the advantages of owning or managing a property in the tourist and holiday rental market. Various investors, from small local entities to larger international enterprises, have tackled this market due to its profitability.

If you are also thinking of getting started in the tourist rental market in Spain, in this three-part series we will delve into how you can successfully manage a property.

In this first part, we will deal with the first phase of how to get started, offering an overview of the different options to carry it out and the requirements to do so.

It is worth mentioning that the legislation that regulates tourist rentals in Spain differs in each Autonomous Community (CCAA). In this article, we will give you a global vision that will help you put yourself in context. Later you will have to draw your conclusions and study in detail the regulations and options of the Autonomous Community and municipality where your accommodation is.

How to register a tourist accommodation in Spain?

Firstly, as we mentioned before, we have to remember the different legislations and requirements of each Autonomous Communities (CCAA). In some, we will find more rigidity and particularities (being this a more time consuming process), while in others, the process will be much more agile and simple.

However, there are a few common points in most of the communities. Among them, almost all will classify tourist lodgings into two categories: Viviendas de Uso Turístico or Apartamentos Turísticos.

Photo by lasPlacas.com (left) and imprentaonline.net (right)

Depending on the category you fit and the rigidity or flexibility of the region, you will have to carry out different steps.

The differences between Viviendas de Uso Turístico and Apartamentos Turísticos are:

The Viviendas de Uso Turístico (VUT) do not have to be destined exclusively for tourist or vacation rental. That is to say, they can also have residential use for their owners, who can live in the accommodation (for example, in low season) or only rent a part of the property.

More often than not, these are part of a residential block of apartments coexisting with private neighbours who usually live in that community. Therefore, on many occasions, they will have to follow the statutes of the community of owners and the rules set by the municipality regarding the uses of the housing, which can set limitations or restrictions to the tourist use of these.

On the other hand, Apartamentos Turísticos (AT) are those destined 100% for the tourist market. The owner of the property cannot live in them. They are usually part of complete blocks of buildings, groups of bungalows, chalets, or equivalent properties.

They also must have a plaque with the initials AT (apartamento turístico) on the outside of the accommodation, accompanied by another one indicating the number of keys it has, equivalent to the stars in hotels.

Other aspects that will help classify your accommodation as one or the other are:

  • The number of days your guests stay: in Viviendas de Uso Turístico in most Autonomous Communities, the stay cannot exceed 30 days. The Apartamentos Turísticos can go for more than 30 days.
  • The maximum number of vacancies you can offer: in the VUT, they cannot exceed 10-15 (depending on the community). In the AT, the number may be higher and the maximum limit will depend on the Autonomous Community.
  • The ranking that orders them: in the VUT, there is only one scale (the plate itself). In AT, they are ranked from 1 to 4 keys.
  • And consequently, the facilities and services included for example, the AT must have a reception, meet minimum dimensions, have the sheets changed daily, have bathrooms, kitchen, cutlery, dishwasher, etc. The VUT does not usually have requirements in terms of facilities.

Some of the most common formalities, documents and certificates required

Although we have already pointed out that the procedures and requirements vary depending on the Autonomous Community, we can summarise some of the most common ones that the vast majority of them ask for and that you will probably have to carry out or obtain:

  • Certificate of Habitability: it is the ID card of the housing, and in some communities, it is obligatory. It must be done and issued by a technician (architect) and it verifies that the property is habitable.
  • Where you won't be required to have the certificate of habitability, you will be asked for a Responsible Declaration that you can write yourself. In this case, you will not need any technician. Its objective is to reflect that the housing does fulfill the requirements demanded in its category (VUT or AT).
  • Energy Certificate: its purpose is to highlight the efficiency of the property. As with the certificate, this must be carried out by a technician (architect or engineer). Since July 2022, it has been mandatory. The only housing units exempt from obtaining this certificate are those physically isolated (i.e. not part of a building) and have a surface area of less than 50 square meters.
  • Once these first 2-3 documents are obtained, you can apply for the Tourist License for the accommodation in your town hall. This definitive document does not require the intervention of a technician and accredits the property as valid for tourist use.
  • Subsequently, you will go to the Tourism organism of each Autonomous Community and register your accommodation in this organ.
  • Other examples of other mandatory secondary formalities are: registering with the police for the completion of the travellers' reports or having Civil Liability Insurance, etc.
  • Another example for ATs may be that legally speaking, they must be registered in the same group as some companies such as hotels, hostels, apart-hotels and guesthouses.

As you have seen while reading the article, when it is an AT the requirements will be more demanding. You will also have to set up a company/corporation or be self-employed and comply with the tax obligations that this entails.

Anyway, we know that this part can be very dense for someone who wants to start in the business like you and, as we don't want you to be confused with all the bureaucracy and procedures necessary, we consider that the best thing you can do is to contact the tourist/holiday association of your community. They know all the processes and steps to follow and they are the best people to guide you through the whole process.

Below, we have compiled a list of the main Tourist Associations in Spain (in alphabetical order) so that you can find yours:

  • Andalusia - AVVA, Association of Tourist Homes and Apartments in Andalusia;
  • Aragón - APTUR Aragón, Association of Tourist Apartments and Dwellings in Aragón;
  • Canary Islands - ASCAV, Canary Islands Vacation Rentals Association;
  • Cantabria - ALVACAN, Association of Vacation Rentals in Cantabria;
  • Castilla La Mancha - APTURCAM, Association of Tourist Apartments of Castilla La Mancha;
  • Castilla y León - No Association, but we leave you the contact of the General Direction of Tourism of the Junta;
  • Catalonia - FEDERATUR, Catalan Federation of Tourist Apartments;
  • Community of Madrid - Madrid Aloja, Association of Individuals, Small Owners and Managers of Tourist Rental Housing;
  • Community Foral de Navarra - APARTURNAPARTURE, Association of Tourist Apartments of Navarra;
  • Valencian Community - APTUR CV, Association of Tourist Apartments of the Valencian Community or VIUTUR, Association of small owners, managers and sympathizers of dwellings for tourist use of the Valencian Autonomous Community;
  • Extremadura - No Association, but we leave you the contact to the Directorate General of Tourism of Extremadura;
  • Galicia - AVITURGA, Association of Tourist Housing of Galicia;
  • Balearic Islands - HABTUR BALEARS, Association of Tourist Rental Housing of the Balearic Islands;
  • La Rioja - ARVUTUR, La Rioja Tourist Housing Association;
  • Basque Country - APARTURE, Association of Tourist Apartments of the Basque Country;
  • Principality of Asturias - ARCA, Association of Rural Accommodations of Asturias;
  • Region of Murcia - ALOJA Región de Murcia, Association of Owners of Tourist Homes and Apartments of the Region of Murcia.

Final Advice

Photos by Maria Ziegler on Unsplash

To conclude, we would like to remind you that once you start promoting your accommodation on the different OTAs and portals (Booking.com, Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.), you must include the tourist license number in the ad. Accommodations who don't share this information may be penalised and face fines.

Regarding the energy certificate, at the moment they are not requiring it as mandatory in the ad information, but we advise you to stay tuned in case they ask for it in the future.

We hope this part of the series has helped you get a first idea and know the first steps to follow.

We encourage you to stay tuned for the next chapters, which will be posted soon. Among other issues, we will analyse aspects such as the solutions and services available to automate the management of your accommodation/s daily and the taxes and fiscal obligations you will have to comply with.

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