Irish holiday homeowners in Canary Islands facing fines for refusing to rent to tourists

Irish Holiday Homeowners In Canary Islands Facing Fines For Refusing To Rent To Tourists
Owners in parts of Gran Canaria have been receiving fines of over €2,000 for refusing to rent their properties out to holidaymakers. Photo: Getty Images
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Gerard Couzens

Irish holiday homeowners are arriving at their properties in the Canary Islands to find four-figure fines waiting for them.

Owners in parts of Gran Canaria have been receiving fines of more than €2,000 for refusing to rent their properties to holidaymakers through a tourist operator.


The sanctions have led to demonstrations on the island over the effects of legislation punishing people who want to use their properties in tourist zones as their main residence or holiday home.

Reports in April last year identified a Spanish pensioner as the first person fined under a controversial tourist law implemented by the Canary Islands’ regional government.

Irishman John Hefferman has also since found himself slapped with a €2,250 fine for a property he bought 13 years ago.

The property is in an apartment block called Apartamentos Las Algas in the south of Gran Canaria, and Mr Hefferman is one of 400 homeowners understood to have been sanctioned over the past few months.


Those affected say the government is being pressurised by the likes of tourist operators, who say the residential use of apartments in tourist complexes has meant the loss of 68,000 beds for tourists throughout the islands.


Although some people have appealed the fines, Mr Hefferman said he had been left with no option to pay because he only found out about the fine three months after it was issued, when it was too late to appeal the matter.

He told local newspaper Canarias 7: “We have paid the fine but the thing about it is that it’s a bit unfair.

“We believe that the fines are suspended for people who did appeal it, but we did not have an opportunity to appeal it because we didn’t receive it in time.


“The other issue is that we find this very worrying. We bought this apartment to spend our winter months out here, and our family come here as well.

“If we can’t do that, maybe we have to sell it. Certainly this apartment will be devalued if this rule is enforced. We are very worried about the future of this.

“It’s unfair. I don’t understand why this is happening after 13 years of enjoying this place.”

Mr Hefferman also questioned why the fine had not been sent to his home in Ireland, which he said is his registered address on his NIE, an ID number assigned to foreigners in Spain.


Hundreds of people took part in demonstrations last September at the holiday resort of Playa del Ingles in Gran Canaria, criticising the local government’s decision to impose the fines.

Maribe Doreste, vice-president of Plataforma de Afectados por la Ley Turistica (Platform for People Affected by the Tourism Law), said the matter is a “constitutional violation of the jurisprudence of Spain’s Supreme Court regarding the right to property and free residence”.

She has also accused businesses involved in tourist lets of pressuring politicians not to modify the law and resolve the problem.

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