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Spain declares war on holiday rentals

PRIVATE holiday rentals could be restricted across Spain under a law being debated in parliament seen as favouring the hotel industry.

Alarmed at the number of tourists now choosing to rent accommodation privately instead of through hotels and registered tour companies, Spain's parliament is poised to pass a law that will restrict the right of home owners to engage in holiday lettings.

The legislation has been called a "death blow" to a sector that contributes greatly to Spain's economy and provides many struggling families with a lifeline at a time of economic hardship.

The law means it will be illegal to rent out property through websites without the correct licence and approval by regional tourism authorities. Home owners will have to ensure their properties conform to regulations already imposed on hotels.

"The passing of this law could deal a death blow to a growing sector that contributes enormously to the economy," said David Tornos, president of Asotur, the tourist rental management association, in Madrid.

The move has been welcomed by hoteliers, who have long felt private renters pose unfair competition in the sector.

With more than 6.2 million people unemployed in Spain, many families survive by letting out one room of their house to tourists, or move in with relatives during high season to make extra money.