NEW REGULATION OF THE TOURIST APARTMENTS FOR MURCIA REGION

But do we know what the difference is between tourist apartments and houses for tourist use ( alojamientos vacacionales) ?

According to the new decree 174/2018 Tourist apartments will be considered to be the accommodation units offered, by means of a price, for rent on a regular basis and duly equipped with furniture, installations, services and equipment for immediate temporary occupation for holiday or leisure purposes. These tourist apartments are classified in the categories of one, two, three, four and five keys.

And according to article 30 of the previous Decree of 2005, still in force, will not have the legal consideration of tourist apartments, but of vacation accommodations (alojamientos vacacionales), isolated units of apartments, bungalows, villas, chalets and similar, offered for rent by the operating companies or person, for vacation or tourist reasons, and that meet the specified requirements.

The key therefore lies in the number of dwellings belonging to the same owner or operator that are offered for holiday use. If there is only one unit offered, it will be a holiday home regulated by Decree 2005 and if there are several, it will be tourist apartments regulated by the new Decree 174/2018.

Focusing on the holiday homes that are offered by most of our customers, there are no different categories, but there is a single category. However, these “alojamientos vacacionales” share some of the requirements of tourist apartments.

Thus, the operators of  these vacation accommodations will be obliged to:

  1. a) Maintain accommodation facilities in a condition that guarantee its proper functioning.
  2. b) Inform users in advance about the system of services offered in the establishment, the conditions for providing them and their price.
  3. c) Provide users with a contact telephone number of the responsible person.

On the other hand, the price of the accommodation must include the following minimum services and supplies:

  1. a) Permanent cold and hot water.
  2. b) Gas and/or electric energy.
  3. c) Cleaning at the beginning of the stay.
  4. d) Change of linen once a week.
  5. e) Television.
  6. f) Collection of rubbish, or where appropriate, the existence of containers in accordance with municipal ordinances.

As well as the operators of the tourist apartments, the operators of  holiday homes must register all travellers who pass through their home, must have complaint sheets available and announce their existence to the public in a visible manner and expressed in Spanish, English and two languages of their choice.  Owners must have a civil liability insurance and the advertising they develop must specify the type of tourist accommodation to avoid confusion to the customer.

As for the beginning of the activity, the companies operating holiday accommodation must notify the competent Ministry of Tourism prior to the start of the activity. The communication will be accompanied by a responsible statement ( Declaración responsible) and will be accompanied by a series of documents for the purposes of registration of the same in the Register of Companies and Tourist Activities of the Region of Murcia. It is forbidden to offer and market the property without having previously made the communication.

More information about DANA

Dear clients:

We inform you that the Consortium of Insurance Compensation (CCS) will pay for the cold drop at least 92 million in the Valencian Community.

The total estimated cost in this community amounts to 92 million euros, and the most damaged areas have been Orihuela and the rest of the Vega Baja region in Alicante, and Ontinyent and the rest of the Vall de Albaida region in Valencia.

Read more

Action guide to claim damages of DANA

The damage caused by DANA in the Vega Baja of Alicante and Murcia has been many, and very substantial.

We ourselves have been affected by its effects and effected after its passage.

The last floods suffered by the Spanish Levante have focused on Insurance and its tools to alleviate the dramatic situations generated by these phenomena.

For this reason, Imont Legal Services wish to contribute a little to help all our affected neighbors, letting them know of the first steps to take in order to claim against the Insurance Companies and the Consortium of Insurance Compensation for the terrible damage suffered.

The Consortium of Insurance Compensation, has issued an announcement indicating that it will compensate the damages produced to the PEOPLE or in the PROPERTY, indicating the Requirements that must be fulfilled to be able to opt for these compensations.

One of the great virtues of the Consortium is that, in the event of a catastrophe being declared, the risks of the insured property are maximum.

In other words, the Consortium is in solidarity with the most affected areas by the catastrophe, contributing funds from other non-affected areas to support those most affected.

We hope that if it is finally declared a ‘catastrophic zone’, it will give:

– Aid for personal injuries.

– Financial aid to individuals for damage to their habitual residence.

– And aid for basic necessities.

For this reason, it is very important that you document and be able to prove the damage suffered. So, the more graphic information, videos or written evidence or any other type of evidence you are able to provide … the simpler the process will be, and the sooner you will see your claims addressed.

You can download this press release at the end of the article. Here is a summary of these requirements and a series of recommendations, you can find more information on the website of the Compensation Consortium.

Action guide claim damages of DANA

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NEW MORTGAGE LAW

Law 5/19 of 15 March, regulating real estate credit agreements, better known as the new Mortgage Law.

This new law, which came into force on June 17, 2019, seeks greater transparency and clarity for consumers, emphasizing the fact that customers must know in detail the loan they are signing and that they are able to resolve any doubts they may have but … what are the basic points of this new law?

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MAIN LAW CHANGES AFFECTING ALICANTE AND MURCIA DURING 2018

  • NEW DECREE THAT REGULATES THE TURIST APARTMENTS IN THE REGION OF MURICA. During the past month of August 2018 came into the new decree that regulates the tourist apartments in the Region of Murcia (Decree nº 174/2018 of 25th July 2018), which derogates the previous decree from 2005 except in its chapter 5, articles from 30 to 35 in reference to the properties with touristic use which continue to remain enforceable until a new legislation regulating this specific issue comes into force. Both the owners of the properties of touristic use and touristic apartments will have the legal obligation to register every customer who stays there as well make available complaint forms written in Spanish, English and another two languages to be chosen at discretion. The owners will need to have insurance for civil liability and any marketing must reflect the condition of tourist apartment clearly as to not cause any confusion amongst clients.

It is forbidden to offer or rent the property or apartment without having previously done the official Communication to the “Consejería de Turismo”-

  • CHANGES IN THE PAYMENT OF MORTGAGE EXPENSES. The final months of 2018 have been full of changes and controversy surrounding the person who should assume the payment of expenses related to the mortgage, whether the bank or the person who took out the mortgage. The conflict made headlines on all of the media sites in the month of October, when the third chamber of the Supreme Court ruled that the tax on legal documented acts should be payed by the bank.

This ruling brought so much controversy that the own Supreme Court, called a vote in plenary session by which it changed the original ruling, stating that the burden of the tax on legal documented acts derived from mortgages was to be paid by the client and not the bank, as determined by law.

Few days later the Spanish Government approve the Royal Decree 17/2018 establishing that the bank is liable to pay the aforementioned tax, however only for mortgages signed after the decree came into effect, 10th of November 2018.

Hence, after the 10th of November 2018, the banks are liable to assume all expenses related to the signing of a mortgage with the exception of the appraisal which for which the client is till liable. In essence, the bank has the obligation to pay for the cost of the dead, administration and notary, while the client remains liable for the appraisal of the property to be purchased and any copies of the deeds they may request.

  • NEW LAW ON PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION AND GUARANTEE OF DIGITAL RIGHTS (LOPDGDD). The new LOPDGDD in force since 6th of December 2018, counts with ninety seven articles with the objective of integrating into the Spanish legislative system the Regulation (UE) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and Council of the 27th of  April 2016 regulating personal data protection and

complete its provisions.

Among other issues, it gathers the obligations to confidentiality, the need for express consent by the person for the use of personal data, the principle of transparency that falls on the right of the affected to be informed on the use of their data and the right to delete such data at the request of the person.

  • CHANGE IN THE DRIVING REGULATION – CHANGE IN SPEED LIMIT. On the 28th of December 2018, the Royal Decree 1514/2018 was published in the BOE ( Spanish Official Publication), by which it modifies the General Circulation Regulation and with it the speed limits in the following classification: 

o    Vehicles, motorcycles and auto-caravans with a maximum authorized weight below 3500 kg and pick-ups: with a speed limit of 120 km per hour on highway and 90 km per hour on conventional roads.

o    Trucks, tractor trucks, vans, auto-caravans with a maximum authorized weight above 3500 kg, articulated vehicles, vehicles with trailer and the rest of vehicles: with a speed limit of 90 km per hour on highways and 80 km per hour on conventional roads.

o    Buses, vehicles for tourist use and mixed adaptable vehicles: will have a top speed of 100km per hour on highways and 90 km per hour on conventional roads.

  • RENTALS REFORM. The royal law decree 21/2018 of the 14th of December 2018 introduced urgent matters in the issue of leasing which saw implemented a series of changes among which were the Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos (Law of urban leasing) and Ley de Propiedad Horizontal ( Law that rules the community of owners).

o    In relation to the urban leasing (long term leases), the main changes implemented by the reform are the increase in the duration of the leases (which go from 3 to 5 years or 7 in the cases where the landlord is a company). Limitation of the deposit (up to a maximum of two moths rent), elimination of the payment of the stamp duty tax by the lease holder and an increased protection of eviction for those families considered vulnerable.

People with disabilities and older than 70 years of age will also have increased protection, as the reforms of the properties in terms of adaptability will derive from the reserve fund of the community of owners and will be mandatory of the Public Administration finances 75% of the cost of such.

o    In relation to touristic leases, the Royal Decree has introduced a change in the law of horizontal property, by which the community of owners of such can prohibit the use of touristic leases in such properties by means of an agreement approved with a majority of 3/5 of the owners and quotas, agreement which can never have retroactive effect. Communities will also have the ability to increase the fees for special expenses or common expenses for this type of housing whose destination is tourist rental, with a maximum of 20%.

However, in January 2019 the Congress of Deputies has not validated this Royal Decree 21/2018 by having the vote against the majority of political parties. The validity of the same therefore has been short-lived.

GREAT REDUCTION OF INHERITANCE AND DONATION TAX IN THE REGION OF MURCIA

The Community has introduced reductions in inheritance tax during the last two years. Initially, this tax was reduced to 99% but only for the transfer of family businesses. Subsequently, a 99% exemption was also introduced for inheritance or donations, but only for special large families with more than five children. And finally, by 2018, this 99% reduction will be applied to inheritances and donations, benefiting the spouses of the deceased person and the heirs of the entire ascending and descending line (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents), leaving out relatives such as siblings, cousins and nephews. 

With this 99% reduction in the tax, many families have had to ask for a loan in order to pay it off or renounce an inheritance that, with great effort and dedication, the deceased obtained in property.

According to calculations managed by the Regional Government, and as an example, for an inheritance of 180,000 euros (amount that according to the Councilor corresponds to the market price of a house), an heir will only have to pay 240 euros, when before 2014 the amount to be paid was 24,000 euros.

But who can benefit from this reduction?

In the case of inheritance, it is necessary for the deceased to have his or her habitual residence in the Region of Murcia in the five years prior to his or her death. Otherwise, the general rule shall apply.

In the case of living donations, the beneficiaries who reside in the Region of Murcia will benefit, even if the donor lives in another autonomous community.

For the rest of the inheritances in which the deceased was not resident in Murcia, or donations received by people who do not reside in Murcia, national rules will apply where the 99% bonus does not exist.

GRAN REDUCCION DEL IMPUESTO DE SUCESIONES Y DONACIONES EN LA REGIÓN DE MURCIA

La Comunidad ha introducido rebajas en el Impuesto de Sucesiones durante los dos últimos años. En principio rebajó este tributo al 99% pero sólo para la transmisión de empresas familiares. Posteriormente se introdujo también una exención del 99% en las herencias o donaciones, pero solo para las familias numerosas especiales que tienen más de cinco hijos. Y ya, para este año 2018, esta reducción del 99% se aplica tanto para sucesiones como donaciones, beneficiando a los cónyuges de la persona fallecida y a los herederos de toda la línea ascendente y descendente (hijos, nietos, bisnietos, padres, abuelos, bisabuelos), dejando fuera a parientes como hermanos, primos y sobrinos.

Con esta reducción del Impuesto al 99% se termina con la situación injusta que han vivido muchas familias de tener que pedir un préstamo para liquidarlo o renunciar a una herencia que, con gran esfuerzo y dedicación, obtuvo en propiedad la persona fallecida.

Según los cálculos que maneja la Consejería, y a modo de ejemplo, para una herencia de 180.000 euros (cantidad que según el consejero se corresponde con el precio de mercado de una casa), un heredero solo tendrá que abonar 240 euros, cuando antes de 2014 la cantidad a pagar era de 24.000 euros

Pero ¿quién puede beneficiarse de esta reducción?

En el caso de la herencia, es necesario que el fallecido tuviese su residencia habitual en la Región de Murcia en los cinco años previos a su muerte. En caso contrario se aplicará la regla general.

En el caso de las donaciones intervivos, se beneficiarán los donatarios que residen en la Región de Murcia, aunque el donante viva en otra comunidad autónoma.

Para el resto de las herencias en las que el fallecido no fuera residente en Murcia, o donaciones recibidas por personas que no residan en Murcia, se aplicarán las reglas nacionales donde la bonificación del 99% no existe.

VALUE ADDED TAX AND PERSONAL INCOME TAX (IRPF) ON HOLIDAY HOMES

The proliferation of Internet portals for the rental of holiday homes has meant a new type of business where more and more homeowners are attracted to the Spanish coasts, causing great discomfort in the hotel sector, which has not hesitated to cross out this activity as unfair competition.  Due to pressure from the hotel sector, in 2013 the Spanish Government decided to exclude these accommodations from the Urban Leasehold Act (LAU) and to entrust the matter to the Autonomous Communities, which has generated a great variety of very different laws depending on the autonomous community in which the house is located. However, there is a coincidence in all cases: The owners must pay in Spain the revenue obtained by these tourist rentals.

The Spanish Tax Agency started to monitor the correct inclusion in the annual tax returns of the revenue generated by private rent for short stays of beach/mountain apartments, flats, cottages, etc. To locate part of these leases, the Tax Agency is using computer tools and crossing data with existing Tourist Housing Registries in the autonomous communities, as well as with tourist rental platforms such as Airbnb or Homeaway.

In case that the Spanish Tax Agency understands that a house is being rented, it shall have the right to pay a visit. If the Tax Agency finds out that the owner is not declaring the revenue from the said rental, it may impose a fine of no less than 50% on the non-declared amount plus the interests on arrears.

When renting holiday homes, the owner must take into account two taxes: VAT and Personal Income Tax (IRPF).

VALUE ADDED TAX ON HOME HOLIDAYS

As VAT is concerned, Article 20.1 of the Value Added Tax Law 37/1992 states that certain transactions are exempt from it. In particular, section 23 of the said Article 20.1 stipulates that no VAT shall be charged on transactions related to housing renting and assignment of lease.

However, Part E of the said Article states that VAT exemption shall not be applied on furnished properties where the lessor undertakes the provision of the same complementary services provided by the hotel sector, such as:

  • Cleaning
  • Change of sheets
  • Catering
  • Change of towels

The scope of the law does not cover cleaning and change of sheets and towels services before and after the assignment of lease. According to Article 20.1, these services must be provided during the said assignment, not only before and after it.

Therefore, the aforementioned services shall be deemed as economic activity and VAT shall be charged on them accordingly. For the owner of the property, the consequences of charging VAT are, among others, the following obligations:

  • To incorporate a company, if required, or to register as self-employed.
  • To issue invoices including VAT.
  • To keep accounting ledgers.
  • To submit the VAT return every three months (form 303), as well as the Annual Tax Return on Operations with Third Parties (Form 347), the Annual Summary of VAT Quarterly Returns (Form 390) or the Tax Return on Intra-community Transactions (Form 349).
  • To declare this revenue separately in the Personal Income Tax.

At present, the VAT on holiday rentals transactions is 10%; however, there are different situations to be taken into account depending on the people involved in the assignment of lease:

a) The owner leases the property directly to a third party: If the owner provides complementary services typical of the hotel sector, then he/she shall issue an invoice with 10% VAT included. In case that the said services are otherwise different from those typical of the hotel sector, then the lease shall be deemed exempt from VAT.

b) The owner assigns his/her holiday home to a managing company that shall be in charge of managing the lease. The owner shall issue an invoice including 21% VAT to the said managing company, which at the same time shall issue an invoice to the user including 10% VAT in case that services typical of the hotel sector are provided. If the aforementioned services are not provided, then the lease is exempted from VAT.

c) The owner assigns the property to the final user but a real estate agent, broker or commission agent that is not a managing company gets involved in the transaction: This case is a combination of cases A and B, i.e. the transaction takes place between the owner and the final user but an agent that is not a “managing company” gets involved.The owner shall issue to the final user an invoice including 10% VAT if he/she provides services typical of the hotel sector. At the same time, the real estate agent, broker or commission agent shall issue an invoice to the owner including 21% VAT for their services.  As it happens with the two previous cases, if the owner does not provide services typical of the hotel sector, VAT shall be exempted.

Personal Income Tax on properties with a tourist or holiday purpose

The revenue obtained from the assignment of lease of tourist or holiday homes shall be treated differently depending on whether the owner has a person employed on a full-time basis to perform this economic activity, or whether he/she provides final users with services typical of the hotel sector under the aforementioned terms.

If there is a person employed on a full-time basis and services typical of the hotel sector are provided, then the revenue obtained from this activity shall be deemed as earnings from economic activities, with the corresponding tax obligations it entails. Otherwise, the said revenue shall be deemed as income from real estate assets. 

Considering the most probable assumption, which is the lease of housing without services typical of the hotel sector nor employees, owners shall include their revenue in their Income Tax as income from real estate assets, whether they are residents or non-residents. Whatever the case, the fiscal year shall have two clearly different periods:

a) The period during which the property is leased. During this period, the owner shall declare his/her full revenue and the necessary expenses to lease the property shall be deducted in proportion to the number of days it is leased. This means that the owner’s earnings will have to be included as income from real estate assets in his/her Income Tax. The taxable income shall be the net assets resulting from subtracting the necessary expenses from the revenue. Initially, the following shall be deducted as expenses:

  • Property tax (IBI)
  • Interests (in case of mortgage)
  • Garbage fee
  • Community fees
  • Intermediary agency
  • Supplies
  • Insurances
  • Repayment
  • Etc.

All these expenses will be charged in proportion to the time the property has been leased, except for the expenses of the mediating agency, which will be deducted in full. The expenses arising from the advice and preparation of the lease agreement will also be deductible in full.

In case that expenses exceed income, then the owner shall be able to deduct the difference throughout the next four years.

b) The period during which the property is free and at the owner’s disposal. In this case, earnings shall be declared as imputed income, according to the Spanish Tax Agency rules. This means that 1.1% shall be applied on the cadastral value of the property, which will be later divided by 365 and finally multiplied by the number of days the property has been unoccupied. If the cadastral values were reviewed prior to 1996, then 2% shall be applied.

In view of the complexity of the subject and given the importance of declaring your taxes correctly to avoid penalties, if you have a property in Spain —whether you lease it or you use it to enjoy with your family— and more important, if you get a rent for leasing that property, we strongly recommend you to ask for advice to the members of our Tax and Accounting Department team. Imont Legal Services has a team of tax consultants that represents non-residents clients, providing them with the necessary advice and support to ensure the fulfilment of their tax obligations in Spain.

HOLIDAY HOUSING RENTALS IN THE REGION OF MURCIA

In recent years several autonomous communities in Spain have been forced to regulate the operation of vacational apartments and holiday accommodations due to pressure from hotel, campsite and rural accommodation managers. These establishments complain that short-term rental housing does not carry the same tax obligations and burdens as the sectors that are already regulated.

In Murcia there are a series of Decrees and Laws that regulate tourist apartments, however it is not clear whether housing offered by individuals through internet portals and other advertising media can be included under this regulation.

These laws are: Decree 75/2005 regulating tourist apartments and holiday accommodations, the Tourism Law of the Region of Murcia 2013 and a Law of February 2017 on urgent measures for the reactivation of business activity. There is also a draft decree that aims to regulate the housing for vacational use in the Region of Murcia.

After careful analysis by the lawyers of Imont Legal Services, we believe that the current regulation on the matter applicable in the Region of Murcia does not obligate private owners to register the rental of their homes, done through virtual portals, such as AirBnb, Howeaway, etc, for vacation purposes.

Said conclusion is based on the following observations:

Firstly, the very legal definition of apartments and holiday accommodations provided by Decree 75/2005 of 24 June refers to the business or professional nature in the transfer of these homes, which by our  understanding leads us to exclude from its scope the individual who offers his or her home on Internet portals or other forms of advertising. Indeed, the Decree of 2005 defines the tourist apartment as a block of apartments or set of villas, offered for rent on a regular basis and equipped with services, and defines holiday accommodation as separate units of apartments, bungalows, villas, chalets and similar dwellings offered for rent by the operating companies, which are natural or legal persons who are habitually and professionally engaged in the tourist transfer of these dwellings. In both cases, this refers to a business or professional nature in the transfer of use for holiday purposes.

These operating companies have the obligation to notify the regional Department of Tourism in advance of the commencement of their activity. The apartments will be classified as luxury, first, second or third class and the existence of an office open to the public, inspection book, claim forms, liability insurance, registration book, identification plate, safe and a person in charge will be obligatory.

For many years this was the only existing regulation on the subject in the Region of Murcia, but in 2013 the Law of Tourism of the Region of Murcia 12/2013, was published. According to its preamble, said legislation was born out of the collaboration between tourism companies and the regional public administration. This law clarifies the terms tourism companies, tourist accommodations and tourist apartments; in addition to establishing financial sanctions for the non-compliance with the law.

The aforementioned law defines tourism companies as a duly accredited natural or legal person that is engaged in the performance of a tourist activity or the rendering of any tourist service in a professional, habitual and price-based manner. These tourism companies must submit the Responsible Declaration of Tourist Classification and be included in the Registry of Companies and Tourist Activities of the Region of Murcia, display information on the services offered, have claim forms, issue invoices or similar and also take out civil liability insurance.

On the other hand, tourist accommodations are, according to the same law, establishments open to the general public, usually dedicated to providing temporary accommodation by means of price, with or without complementary services. This definition encompasses hotels, campsites, tourist apartments, rural accommodation, hostels, among others. Tourist apartments on the other hand are defined as accommodation units offered by companies for rent on a regular basis and equipped with furniture, facilities, services and equipment for immediate temporary occupation for holiday or leisure purposes, meeting the requirements that have been determined.

Again, we can observe that the notions provided by the law, both for tourism companies and tourist apartments, and especially the entrepreneurial and professional character mentioned above, would lead us to exclude from their scope the private individuals who wish to rent their housing for tourist use. Said individuals are therefore inherently excluded from the financial sanctions regime established by law.

Indeed, the Tourism Law of the Region of Murcia defines as a serious infringement to operate as a tourism company without being registered, and establishes a fine of between 1,000 and 10,000 euros as a penalty. In determining the amount of the fine, the pertinent body will take into consideration a wide array of circumstances such as the profit obtained, the financial situation of the offender, the recurrence, the remediation and even the voluntary reparation of damages.

Recently, in February 2017, a new legal regulation has been introduced that affects this matter, Law 2/2017, of 13 February, on urgent measures for the reactivation of business activity and employment through liberalization and the elimination of bureaucratic burdens, which has modified two articles of the Tourism Law of the Region of Murcia with the objective of eliminating the reference to a necessary professional character of the notions of tourism and tourism businesses.

This subtle modification is being used by the regional Department of Tourism to require individuals to declare the activity and the inscription in the Registry of Tourist Activities and Enterprises of the Region of Murcia, however there are serious legal doubts about whether these modifications are sufficient or, as this office understands, it is necessary to make a more profound modification of the matter to apply the Tourism Law to rental housing for holiday purposes by its owners.

In support of this theory we have to say that, at present, there is a draft decree to regulate tourist use of housing in the Region of Murcia, which expressly does establish the obligation to register those owners or managers who offer homes for holiday use through Internet portals or other forms of commercial offer. These dwellings will be classified in a single category and may be operated by the owner or by a management company but, in any case, it will be necessary to register and include the registration number in all advertising, in addition to having a civil liability insurance of at least 500,000 euros, as well as the existence of a responsible person whose number will be given to the users to ensure maintenance, control of entry and exit of users, as well as the existence of claim forms both in Spanish and English. This draft decree subjects these dwellings to the disciplinary regime of the Tourism Law, but gives a period of six months for the owners of the dwellings to update themselves in compliance with the law.

By virtue of all these regulations, we understand that until the Draft Decree regulating tourist homes in the region of Murcia is approved, individuals who offer their homes on the Internet are not required to register and comply with the specific requirements of the current rules on tourist apartments. Nevertheless, being clear the objective of the Murcia regional Government to regularize and control the renting of these homes, we think it is convenient to bring forward what, sooner or later, will be mandatory for all owners of these homes and, based on this, we make our services available to those customers who own a home in the Region of Murcia, offer it for vacation rental and wish to proceed to their registration in the Register of Companies and Tourist Activities of the Region of Murcia.

VIVIENDAS VACACIONALES EN LA REGION DE MURCIA

Muchas comunidades autónomas españolas se han visto obligadas a regular la explotación de los apartamentos turísticos y alojamientos vacacionales por la presión que ejercen los dirigentes de los hoteles, campings y alojamientos rurales. Estos establecimientos se quejan de que las viviendas de alquiler a corto plazo no asumen las mismas obligaciones y cargas fiscales que los sectores que ya están regulados.

En Murcia existen una serie de Decretos y Leyes que regulan los apartamentos turísticos, sin embargo no queda claro que dentro de dicha regulación se puedan incluir las viviendas ofertadas por particulares a través de portales de internet y otros medios de publicidad.

Estas leyes son; el Decreto 75/2005 por el que se regulan los apartamentos turísticos y alojamientos vacacionales, la Ley de Turismo de la Región de Murcia de 2013 y una Ley de febrero de 2017 de medidas urgentes para la reactivación de la actividad empresarial. Así mismo existe un proyecto de Decreto para regular las viviendas de uso turístico de la Región de Murcia.

Tras un detenido análisis por parte de los abogados de Imont Legal Services, nosotros consideramos que la normativa vigente sobre la materia aplicable en la Región de Murcia no es suficiente para obligar a los propietarios particulares a registrar el alquiler de sus viviendas con el fin vacacional que se hace a través de portales virtuales, como AirBnb, Howeaway… Dicha conclusión se basa en las siguientes observaciones;

En primer lugar, las propias definiciones de apartamentos jurídicos y de alojamientos vacacionales proporcionadas por el Decreto 75/2005 de 24 de junio aluden a un carácter empresarial o profesional en la cesión de estas viviendas, lo cual entendemos que nos lleva a excluir de su ámbito al particular que ofrece su vivienda en portales de internet u otras formas de publicidad. Efectivamente, en el Decreto de 2005 se define el apartamento turístico como un bloque de apartamentos o conjunto de villas, ofrecidos empresarialmente en alquiler de modo habitual y dotados de servicios, y define los alojamientos vacacionales como unidades aisladas de apartamentos, bungalows, villas, chales y similares ofrecidos en régimen de alquiler por las empresas explotadoras, que son personas físicas o jurídicas que se dedican de forma habitual y profesional a la cesión turística de estas viviendas. Es decir, en ambos supuestos se alude a un carácter empresarial o profesional en la cesión de uso para usos vacacionales.

Estas empresas explotadoras tienen la obligación de comunicar el inicio de su actividad a la Consejería de Turismo con carácter previo. Los apartamentos se clasificaran en lujo, primera, segunda o tercera y será obligatoria la existencia de una oficina abierta al público, libro de inspección, hojas de reclamaciones, seguro de responsabilidad civil, libro de registro, placa identificativa, caja fuerte y un responsable.

Durante muchos años está fue la única norma existente sobre la materia en la Región de Murcia, pero en el año 2013 se publicó la Ley 12/2013 de 20 de diciembre, de Turismo de la Región de Murcia que, según su preámbulo, nace de la colaboración entre las empresas turísticas y la Administración pública regional. Esta ley define qué se entiende por empresas turísticas, por alojamientos turísticos y por apartamentos turísticos; además de fijar las multas en caso de incumplimiento de la ley.

En cuanto a las empresas turísticas, las mismas se definen en esta ley como las personas físicas o jurídicas que debidamente acreditadas, de manera profesional, habitual y mediante precio, se dedican a la realización de una actividad turística o presentación de algún servicio turístico. Estas empresas turísticas deberán presentar la Declaración Responsable de Clasificación Turística y pertenecer al Registro de Empresas y Actividades Turísticas de la Región de Murcia, exhibir información sobre los servicios ofrecidos, disponer de hojas de reclamaciones, emitir facturas o similar y también contratar un seguro de responsabilidad civil.

Por su parte los alojamientos turísticos son, según la ley, establecimientos abiertos al público en general, dedicado de manera habitual a proporcionar hospedaje temporal mediante precio, con o sin prestación de servicios complementarios. Dentro de los alojamientos turísticos se encuentran los hoteles, campings, apartamentos turísticos, alojamientos rurales, albergues, y otros. Los apartamentos turísticos se definen como unidades alojativas ofrecidas empresarialmente en alquiler de modo habitual y debidamente dotadas de mobiliario, instalaciones, servicios y equipos para su inmediata ocupación temporal por motivos vacacionales o de ocio, cumpliendo los requisitos que se determinen.

Nuevamente podemos observar que las nociones aportadas por la ley, tanto para las empresas turísticas como para los apartamentos turísticos, y en especial el carácter empresarial y profesional antes mencionado, nos llevarían a excluir de su ámbito a los particulares que de forma privada deseen alquilar su vivienda para uso turístico, a los cuales, por tanto, no se les debería aplicar el régimen de sanciones que establece la Ley.

Efectivamente, la Ley de Turismo de la Región de Murcia define como infracción grave el operar como empresa turística sin estar registrado, y establece como sanción una multa entre 1.000 y 10.000 euros. En la determinación del importe de la multa se tendrán en cuenta circunstancias tales como el beneficio obtenido, la situación económica del infractor, la reincidencia, la subsanación e incluso la reparación voluntaria de los daños.

Recientemente, en febrero de 2017 ha visto la luz una nueva norma legal que afecta a esta materia, la Ley 2/2017, de 13 de febrero, de medidas urgentes para la reactivación de la actividad empresarial y del empleo a través de la liberalización y de la supresión de cargas burocráticas, la cual ha modificado dos artículos de la Ley de Turismo de la Región de Murcia con el objetivo de eliminar la referencia a un necesario carácter profesional de las nociones de empresa turística y apartamento turísticos.

Esta sutil modificación está siendo utilizada por parte de la Consejería de Turismo para exigir a los particulares la declaración de la actividad y la inscripción en el Registro de Actividades y Empresas Turísticas de la Región de Murcia, sin embargo existen serias dudas jurídicas sobre si estas modificaciones son suficientes o, tal y como este despacho lo entiende, se hace necesario realizar una modificación más profunda de la materia para aplicar la Ley de Turismo a  las viviendas alquiladas para fines vacaciones por parte de sus dueños.

En apoyo de esta teoría hemos de decir que en la actualidad existe un proyecto de Decreto para regular las viviendas de uso turístico de la Región de Murcia, que de forma expresa sí que establece la obligación de registrarse a aquellos propietarios o gestores que ofrezcan viviendas para usos vacacionales mediante portales de internet u otras formas de oferta comercial. Estas viviendas se clasificarán en una categoría única y podrán ser explotadas por el propietario o por una empresa gestora pero, en cualquier caso, será necesario registrarse e incluir el número de registro en toda la publicidad, además de tener suscrito un seguro de responsabilidad civil de al menos 500.000 euros, así como la existencia de un responsable cuyo número se dará a los usuarios para asegurar el mantenimiento, el llevar un control de entrada y salida de usuarios, la existencia de hojas de reclamaciones en español e inglés y el emitir facturas o documentos sustitutivos legalmente establecidos. Este proyecto de Decreto somete estas viviendas al régimen disciplinario de la Ley de Turismo, pero da un plazo de seis meses a los propietarios de las viviendas para ponerse al día en el cumplimiento de la ley.

En virtud de toda esta normativa, entendemos que actualmente y hasta que no se apruebe el Proyecto de Decreto por el que se regulan las viviendas de uso turístico en la región de Murcia, los particulares que oferten sus vivienda en internet no están obligados a registrarse y cumplir con los requisitos específicos de las normas vigentes sobre apartamentos turísticos. No obstante, siendo claro el objetivo de la Consejería de Murcia de regularizar y llevar un control del alquiler de estas viviendas, creemos conveniente adelantar lo que, tarde o temprano, será obligatorio para todos los propietarios de estas viviendas y en base a ello ponemos nuestros servicios a disposición de aquellos clientes que siendo titulares de una vivienda en la Región de Murcia, la ofrezcan en alquiler vacacional y deseen proceder a su inscripción en el Registro de Empresas y Actividades Turísticas de la Región de Murcia.