Spanish Property Owners: Register to Rent or Face Fines

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PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS ON THE COSTA BLANCA face fines from Spanish government regulators as a new law requires all owners who rent private property within the Valencian Community, to register their properties with Provincial authorities in a crackdown on illegal renting and tax fraud across Spain.

New legislation now makes it compulsory for all owners of tourist accommodation, including privately rented homes on the Costa Blanca, to register their property in the Spanish General Register for Tourist Businesses, Establishments and Professionals (Registro General de Empresas, Establecimientos y Profesiones Turísticas), or face the possibility of prosecutions and fines for non-compliance.

Spain’s hotel and tourism sectors are insisting that government and Provincial authorities embark on a campaign to root out illegal renters and rental agencies that are openly operating on the Costa Blanca. They maintain that those who are renting apartments and villas illegally, both individuals and agents, are committing tax fraud and they have asked for more local inspectors to carry out checks throughout the Valencian region.

The new legislation states that the task of regulating private property rental to tourists is no longer covered by the State Law of Urban Rentals (LAU), and is instead subject to regional government law, much of which allegedly aims to restrict private tourist rentals in favour of the much more powerful hotel industry.

From 3rd July, private property owners across the Costa Blanca who wish to rent out their apartments or villas to holidaymakers have to apply for a licence, and their property must be registered with the authorities. Most importantly, once registered, a property’s registration number must be included with any and all advertisements for that property.

Failure to comply with the latest legislation can lead to prosecution and fines for the property owner, the advertiser, and any agent employed to manage the property. Fines are set at a minimum of €6,000 and a maximum of €90,000 and penalties for businesses can include enforced suspension of trading.

David Tornos, President of the Tourist Rental Management Association, stated “The passing of this law could deal a death blow to a growing sector that contributes enormously to the economy,” while ASOTUR, the Asociación de Gestores de Viviendas de Uso Turístico, are quoted as saying, “This is an attack on civil liberties, limiting the use of private property and the freedom of tourists to choose how they want to spend their holidays.”

Local administrators recommend that the registration process should start immediately as enforcement of the legislation can begin immediately, and private property owners across the Costa Blanca who currently rent their property are urged to seek the advice and assistance of a lawyer.

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Spanish Costa Blanca Restaurants Face Allergy Checks

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RESTAURANTS IN SPAIN ARE RECEIVING VISITS from Spanish government regulators and local council officials to ensure food retailers are compliant with the new EU allergy regulations (EU 1169/2011). With large penalties at stake what should restaurants and other food businesses do, to ensure compliance with the law?

The new EU law regulating allergen information might be typical EU; long and rather boring. The not so boring bit is the penalties. In the UK non-compliance with this particular piece of legislation is a criminal offence attracting a level 5 penalty on the Standard Scale: that’s up to 6 months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure and/or a fine of between £5,000 and £60,000 depending on whether anyone actually died from ingesting, for example, an undisclosed peanut.

With this in mind, in many ways you could consider that Spanish authorities reportedly offering a “light” penalty of just €15,000 per offence is rather forgiving. The UK started enforcement in April 2015 and Spanish businesses were given until July 1st 2015 by the EU to get their allergy affairs in order. That deadline has passed.

At the moment unannounced inspections from officers of Spain’s AICA (Agencia de Información y Control Alimentario) are offering advice, but the AICA have a recent history of wide-ranging prosecutions (like prosecuting 110 food companies for, amongst other things, “poor filing” just last month, read it here), so it’s only a matter of time before advice turns to enforcement.

On the Costa Blanca in Spain, Spanish AICA inspectors have been visiting food retailers large and small in Ciudad Quesada, La Marina, Torrevieja, Guardamar, Benijofar and Benimar. Given the fact that established restaurants, hotels, care homes, bars, bistros, pubs, and even market traders on Lemon Tree Lane market in Guardamar have all been targeted, people could face prosecution for non-compliance sooner rather than later.

Who The Regulations Apply To
Anyone serving or selling food to the public needs to abide by the legislation: bars, restaurants, bistros, market traders, hoteliers, care homes, hospitals, pubs and gastro-pubs; even companies that sell food at a distance, for instance websites that sell wholefood products and their derivatives online.

Compliance with The Allergy Law in Spain
Menu’s must feature icons next to the product being sold highlighting which, if any, of the 14 major allergens are contained within the food offered for sale. Icons must be a minimum of 5mm in height and width, clear, legible, and follow the standardised European Directive on graphical appearance and colour.

A public advice notice must be clearly displayed either on the premises, or within the menu, (or for reasons of due-diligence preferably both), advising members of the public about the risk of allergy from consuming food items within the establishment. The notice should reference the EU 1169/2011 regulation.

Legally, wording and terminology must be in Spanish, even if the business caters to a wholly English clientele. The public advice notice must feature larger, legible and clear icons and wording that follow the standardised European Directive on graphical appearance and colour. Note that the regulations do not define what size “larger” constitutes, but assume bigger is safer.

Every food retailer is required by law to have at least one menu in the Spanish language for inspection by AICA officers and their local council representatives.

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