This is our update on the situation regarding the licensing of villa rentals. How we now see the situation developing and our proposals on how we continue in our mission to legalize villa rentals.

We started this project in August 2012 following the inaugural meeting of property owner members of the Lanzarote Business & Residents Association. It soon became clear that despite our intensive lobbying and outright opposition to the government proposals on regulating the villa rental sector this was never going to result in a quick fix. It requires a long term strategic fight to assert your rights which will take time and resources. The new law contains strict criteria that must be applied to all of the Canarian Islands The legislation is extremely technical and contains a lot of legal criteria; there are many interpretations of the application of the law which is why we have a team of lawyers, architects and engineers working with us on this. We shall try to briefly explain and summarize what the position is.

The power has been passed to the individual boroughs on the island to decide how they want their land to be classified; i.e. Touristic, Residential, Commercial etc. This has to be done before licenses can be applied for. Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise have plans but the Canarian Government are still finalizing the plans for the borough of Playa Blanca and Puerto Calero. This means that at the moment there is no way that licenses can be applied for in those areas. However rather than looking at this negatively this could in some ways be beneficial as it allows us time and the opportunity to continue to lobby and battle for parts of those areas to be reclassified.

In consolidated touristic areas like parts of Puerto del Carmen, where the land is classed as touristic owners can apply for licenses providing their properties meet with the requirements that the government has stipulated. At the moment the only area that this applies to is from `Calle Italia´ (close to San Antonio Hotel) towards the airport, but in the future this could change. For the rest of Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise the same applies, if your property is on touristic land you will need to apply for a touristico license for the property, but only if your property meets with the required standards. If you are not on touristic land or your property does not meet the standards, at the moment you will not be able to apply. This can of course change and for these areas we are working on the reclassification of land so that there is dual use of land, residential and touristic.

For all other areas at the current time the Island plan has not been completed and will not be finished till 2015 so at the moment you are unable to apply for a license, again however we will continue to lobby for certain parts to be reclassified.

If your property is included in the modernization plan for Puerto del Carmen i.e. Los Mojones and Risco Prieto then you come under a different category. There are many different avenues that we are working on and we will be in contact with owners on an individual basis.

We have prepared a plan of action on how we shall with your support continue to resolve this complex issue. As we previously informed you the law enacted has ample flexing room where we may possibly find loop-holes to allow us to apply for licenses for you. This is where our team of experts is vital, they are studying the plans and will be able to advise us of what steps we need to take to succeed and apply changes to the law.

One of the key drivers going forward will be our application and use of of the Bolkestein Directive to bolster our arguments. This directive reminded EU Member States of the “principle of free movement, while accepting inroads when free movement collides with other public interests. However, before making such inroads, authorities have to verify and recognize any protection already provided in the country of origin – and under the mutual recognition principle, they need to take into account what takes place in other countries before proceeding”.

While this may seem crystal clear as a guiding principle to be followed, in essence, as with so much of Brussels laws and directives, individual governments veer off on their own course reflecting political expediency and the power of strong lobbies on national and local politicians decision making.

The Services Directive, which came into force on the 28th December 2009, requires all EU Member States to establish web portals so anyone who provides a service will have a “point of single contact” where they can find out what legal requirements they would need to meet to operate in the country in question. Service providers can also use the web portals to apply for any license or permit they would need.

What we actually need to do going forward is really quite simple – we must continue to be a powerful united voice of opposition to the recently enacted legislation. Thanks to our lobbying efforts at various meetings in Las Palmas, Tenerife and in Lanzarote with government ministers and an almost daily lobbying of local Lanzarotean politicians funded by your project contributions this year, the new law enacted has ample flexing room where we may possibly find loop-holes to allow us to apply for licenses for you. But the authority and influence to achieve this will only come from strength in numbers. Importantly we have the support of many established and professional property management companies.

Whatever you may have read in a myriad of conflicting press reports – and of course each vested interest will propagate its own version of the legitimacy and authenticity of their position – there really is only one way forward under the respected organizational umbrella of the Lanzarote Business & Residents Association, that is now recognised as having a strong and committed voice on this issue on behalf of its villa owner members.

More specifically we must all recognize that the new laws have got strict implementation criteria that must be applied to all islands but also that power has been devolved to each individual borough on the island to decide locally what they want to do with their land and how it will be broken down into the various land classification to enable licensing applications

To clarify the breakdown for Lanzarote is as follows:

Playa Blanca: Playa Blanca does not have any planning yet so owners here will not have the ability to apply for licensing at this moment in time and must wait until the Canarian Government finalize the plans for the borough. The same applies for Puerto Calero.

Puerto Del Carmen: In consolidated touristic areas like Puerto del Carmen if the land is designated touristic you will be able to apply for a license for a villa providing it meets the strict requirement that the government has outlined in the legislation.

Costa Teguise: In Costa Teguise the same application process applies – if you are on designated touristic land you will be able to apply for a Turisticos license for your villa.

But again as in Puerto del Carmen if your villa is not on touristic designated land you will not be able to apply but this again can change in the future with pressure and lobbying.

Outside these areas: If your property is located outside of these areas the Island plan has not been finished yet and it is anticipated it will not be completed until 2015 at the earliest so you will not be able to apply for any legalization at all until that planning is finished and complete.

Declaration of Responsibility: If you have already submitted a declaration of responsibility through your lawyers and have most likely been denied, we advise that you challenge this decision in the courts as recommended by the lawyers. If you submitted your declaration via the LBA architect Javier then we be pursuing a further course of action and will be writing to you with further information in respect of this.

And this is where the Bolkestein Directive kicks in as it is likely you will need to take it all the way to the European Courts where you will probably win! However we do not know how long this will take but we would imagine at least a number of years. So we would recommend you speak to a lawyer as an individual so that you know all your options regarding this course of action and as this would be an individual decision it must be made by each individual property owner. If you require the use of a lawyer, then please contact us as we have a list of respected companies.

Modernisation plan in Puerto del Carmen: If you are involved in the modernization plan for Puerto del Carmen, the work on this will still continue and we will be in contact with owners directly.

In a nutshell our overall recommendations are therefore that:

  1. We continue under the umbrella of the Lanzarote Business and Residents Association to lobby and fight for the planning in Playa Blanca to fit our members requirements.
  2. In Puerto del Carmen we are fighting for reclassification of land so that there can be dual use of land so residential and touristic can be on the same plots.
  3. The same as (2) applies in Costa Teguise.
  4. And everywhere else on the island we have to fight for the reclassification of the island plan to allow villa rentals.

We suggest that you continue as you are, but that you use a reputable property management company and that you pay all due taxes here. In the event of an inspection this will support your claim that you wish to act legally. Should you receive an inspection and your property is registered with us we will fully support you; however this will not include any financial or legal fees.

With your continued specific project support over the coming battles that frankly will, we estimate, stretch over a couple of years down the line we have every intention of winning the war on your behalf and we will do so.

Daniel Trigg

President Lanzarote Business and Residents Association