Vacation rentals are becoming increasingly popular with guests, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they offer more privacy, a sense of security and more favorable regulations compared to hotels. As a result, vacation rentals will be more likely to recover quickly from the pandemic. Maybe you have already spotted the vacation rental of your dreams or have even bought it but feel unsure about what steps to take next? There are many things to take care of between registering your property and welcoming your first guests. This can seem overwhelming and discouraging, even if your property is the perfect rental. We have put together a guide with 5 steps to start renting out your vacation home successfully.
1. Register Your Vacation Home and Obtain a Tourist License
To start running a vacation rental business in Spain, you must first meet some legal requirements. A vacation rental is defined as a property that is rented out to third parties in exchange for a price. To fall into this category, the property should be rented for a maximum period of 31 days, two or more times a year. Requirements for renting out your vacation rental are regulated on a regional level (Legislación Autonómica). Each region has a different law, so it is important to inquire with your local authorities about the legal requirements for where your property is located. Although there are some local specificities, in general, the process for registering a vacation rental is similar throughout the whole country. The first and most important requirement is to obtain a valid Tourist License.
What is a tourist license?
If you want to begin renting out your vacation home, you will have to register your property with the local authorities and obtain a tourist license. This is a legal requirement. Since January 2016, some vacation rental portals require this license number from homeowners. If you do not provide it quickly, they will deactivate your ad. Licenses are required for all types of holiday rentals, including apartments, studio apartments, villas, chalets, bungalows, and similar.
How to obtain a tourist license
Although the exact process may differ slightly from region to region, generally, the process for obtaining a tourist license is as follows:
- The vacation rental owner declares to the local authorities that they want to rent out their property by sending a DRIAT (Declaración Responsable de Inicio de Actividad Turística). Once they have submitted their declaration, they will receive a temporary registration number and can begin distributing their property.
When submitting this declaration, rental owners will generally need to present the following:
- Identification details of the property and its owner
- Proof that you possess a certificate of occupancy
- Compliance with the requirements set out in the applicable regulations
In most regions, this declaration can be submitted online.
- The regional authorities will check the documentation submitted by the homeowner. If the vacation rental meets all requirements, they will receive their permanent registration number (which will be the license number) after about 3 or 4 months, depending on the region. The property will also be recorded in the regional registry. If the vacation rental doesn’t meet the necessary requirements, the homeowner will have to stop distributing the property until it does.
- It is important to mention that the municipal regulations for the sector where the property is located can limit or condition the property’s use.
Please make sure to check out the following resources to get a comprehensive overview of regional legal requirements and how to obtain a license in Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Comunidad Valenciana and Catalonia.
2. Minimum Requirements for a Vacation Rental
After you have successfully applied for a license, you will need to ensure that your vacation home meets some requirements before you start renting it out to guests.
Public liability insurance
No matter how cautious your guests are while staying in your property, accidents may still happen and claims can quickly become very expensive. Public liability insurance insures you against third party claims due to personal or material damages on your property. It is a legal requirement in Spain to have public liability insurance for your property. Check out our blog post to read more about how to best insure your vacation rental against damages and accidents.
Complaints and information book
In Spain, all businesses must have an official “complaints book” (Libro de reclamaciones) on display (in at least Spanish and English). It is also recommended to display your house rules as well as the local periods of rest in your property. This will help guests to understand the local rules and regulations and also your rules from the start. In case of any negative experiences, guests can also leave feedback.
Identify travelers and register them with the police
As a vacation rental owner, you must identify all travelers over 16 years old by filling out the form “Parte de Entrada de Viajeros.” You must also create a Travelers Registration Book and register all guests with either the National Police (usually in big towns and cities) or the Guardia Civil (usually in villages and rural areas) within 24 hours of their arrival.
Every traveler from 16 upwards must sign the Travelers Registration. Failure to do so can result in fines.
Required features of your vacation rental
Your vacation rental must also meet specific requirements with regard to its interior set up and amenities. These are:
- A window or balcony for ventilation
- The possibility to prevent light entering from the outside
- Security devices on the doors to protect privacy
- Fire extinguisher and fire blanket – accessible and in a quantity equal to the number of occupied units
- First aid kit according to EU standard (with CE mark)
- Visible information about the national emergency number 112
- At least one sanitary facility (with a toilet, a bath or a shower and washbasin) for every three rooms, with a lock to protect privacy
- Written information for guests about house rules and usage (e.g. for swimming pools, elevators, public areas, quiet hours, reception working hours, waste disposal, services provided, etc.) and about the operation of electrical appliances. This can be displayed in an informational book for your guests, such as our Bookiply welcome book.
As requirements may differ from region to region, be sure to check out the specifics of your municipality.
Declaring income for your vacation rental
If you own a vacation rental in Spain you are obliged to declare your income and pay the due tax. This applies to all vacation rental owners, even if they only rent out a part or an annexe of their holiday property. The tax year runs from January 1 to December 31. You must submit your tax returns by the June 30 deadline of the current year. If your property has been vacant for a while during the past year you are still obliged to declare your taxes.
If you are unsure about how to submit your tax return you should visit your nearest tax office for more information or visit the website for the Agencia Tributaria (Tax Office).
3. Adapt it to Your Target Group
Now that you have registered your property as a vacation rental and have met all requirements to establish a successful vacation rental business, you will need to think about your future guests. Depending on what kind of property you have and where it is located, there may be different kinds of guests for which your rental is just the right one.
Define your target group
Why is it important to identify your target audience? Travelers searching for a property look for specific details such as the property’s location, price, amenities, and more. Knowing your target group will help you increase bookings and avoid cancelations.
The type of property you have will help you define your ideal target group. A smaller apartment may be perfect for solo travelers or honeymooners but might not be suitable for bigger families. The location of your property also plays a crucial role in defining your target group. A large property in a rural area could be ideal for groups of friends or to host events. At the same time, a city apartment may sound just right for millennials or so-called “workationers” – guests working remotely while exploring new destinations in their spare time. Once you know your target group, you can focus on how to attract your perfect guests.
Equip your rental with great amenities
One way to attract guests is by having great amenities. Fast Wi-Fi and a desk set-up can get you more bookings from guests who work remotely, while eco-conscious guests will certainly appreciate your waste separation. Outdoor amenities such as terraces, a nice dining area or a pool will be very popular with most guests looking for a relaxing vacation.
Even if you do not have an outdoor space, you can make your property more attractive to guests by having a very well-equipped kitchen, a great sound system or box-spring beds for a good night’s sleep. In addition, safety also plays an important role as families traveling with children will appreciate edge protectors or child-proof power outlets.
Different target groups will look for different amenities and locations. This is why knowing who will book your rental will also give you insight into how to equip it.
4. Description Texts and Photos
Before listing your rental on one or several websites, you will need an informative text and convincing photos. The most beautiful property may not receive many bookings if the listing displays a boring, confusing or overly long text – nor will bland photos convince guests to book your rental.
What to highlight
Your listing should focus on the things that make your rental unique and perfect for your target group. Does it have great views of the sea? Is it only a short walk from the nearest beach? Or is the outdoor area ideal for unwinding in, enjoying the sunshine and relaxing in the pool? Think of what your biggest selling points are and highlight them in both the text and the photos.
You may now feel inspired to sit down and write an excellent text for your vacation rental, mentioning all its highlights and why this is the perfect accommodation for guests coming to your area. Nevertheless, it might be a good idea to have a professional content writer create the text for your listing.
Professional content writers can help you attract guests by creating just the right text for your rental. It is essential to know exactly what information travelers look for in a text and what amenities and nearby places should be mentioned. A very long and rather descriptive text could actually cause travelers to feel overwhelmed and look at the next listing.
A concise text providing all the necessary information and leaving out redundant points is indispensable for a successful vacation rental business.
As well as a professional content writer, a professional photographer will know exactly how to stage your property and show it at its best. The weather, time of day, light incidence and the perfect angles can make all the difference to your photos. In addition, a smartphone just cannot compete with a state-of-the-art camera.
Potential guests will know within seconds of looking at your photos if your property appeals to them. The first impression here is crucial, and professional photos will likely catch travelers’ attention and make them even more curious about your property. In fact, professional photos have proven to generate 5 times more bookings than non-professional photos.
5. List Your Vacation rental
As the last step before receiving your first bookings, you need to list your rental online so that everybody looking for accommodation in your area can find it. However, knowing what channels to place your ad on and keeping track of different listings can be quite challenging, not to mention managing multiple calendars and finding the perfect pricing model. Eventually, this can lead to overlapping bookings, cancelations and personal stress.
The advantages of a channel manager
Listing your vacation rental on the big portals such as Airbnb, Booking.com or Vrbo and also with local agencies can help increase your bookings and your revenue. On the other hand, this can cause multiple issues with double bookings, different pricing models and lots of time spent managing multiple calendars.
Using a channel manager, such as Bookiply, is an all-in-one solution to these challenges. With Bookiply, you have everything in just one tool. Your rental will be displayed on various channels while all calendars are synchronized. This means nights that have already been booked via a certain channel will also be blocked on other portals.
Furthermore, Bookiply provides you with a professional text in multiple languages and professional photos for your listing, as well as an account manager, who will be your go-to person for all matters.
With the help of a channel manager, your vacation rental business will be in the best possible hands, and you will never need to worry about overlapping bookings or handle cancelations yourself.
Prices for different vacation rentals vary due to many reasons, such as property type, location and amenities. Although you can determine an average nightly rate based on these criteria, having the same rate throughout the year is not a very reasonable option due to seasonality, demand and duration of stay.
You can also apply discounts to attract guests who would like to stay longer in your rental. While the nightly rate may be lower, you will make more revenue by having your calendar filled over a more extended period. In addition, you can add extra fees when welcoming more than a certain number of guests.
A good pricing model is vital to the success of your vacation rental business. A channel manager such as Bookiply can give you insights into market data and help you set the right prices for your region. For you, this will mean more bookings and higher revenues.
You are now ready to start your vacation rental business
Now that you know exactly what to do to rent out your vacation home in Spain, you can go ahead and make your dream come true. We hope you feel inspired and ready to take the steps toward starting your own vacation rental business. Once your first guests arrive and enjoy unforgettable holidays in your home, you will know that it was all worth it.