Could this be the end of Airbnb in Medellin?

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The ability for property owners to rent out residential units on platforms like Airbnb has hit a roadblock in Colombia. The Congress of the Republic has shelved a bill that sought to allow residential buildings and complexes to operate as tourist accommodations without prior approval from the assembly of co-owners.

The proposed legislation aimed to modify Law 675 of 2001, which the Hotel and Tourism Association of Colombia (Cotelco) warned could generate legal and economic impacts for the hotel sector, exacerbating security and coexistence issues arising from unregulated tourist rentals across the country.

“This initiative authorized, without consulting the will of the co-owners, that in all properties (of complexes or buildings with a horizontal property regime for exclusive residential use) the activity of accommodation or accommodation for tourist purposes could be carried out,” Cotelco explained.

Concerns Over Gentrification and Real Estate Costs

Had the bill passed, Cotelco feared it could have fueled gentrification and driven up real estate prices for both purchasing and renting residential properties, a phenomenon already witnessed in cities like Medellín, Cartagena, and San Andrés.

José Andrés Duarte, Cotelco’s executive president, emphasized the need for careful planning in tourism development. “We have to protect the tourism development of our cities and regions. We need to continue planning and building the development of a sector that must have clear rules of the game. Growth without planning is the great challenge facing the tourism sector.”

Duarte warned, “Without planning, we are going to be affected by problems of gentrification, coexistence, security, exploitation of children and adolescents in the context of travel and tourism, among others.” He supported the decision to shelve the bill, stating, “Colombia cannot remain indifferent to the need for a regulatory framework for the growth of tourism service providers.”

Residential Properties Lack Necessary Conditions

María Alejandra Pérez, legal director of the Medellín Real Estate Exchange, concurred with Cotelco’s stance. Speaking to the newspaper El Colombiano, she stressed that residential properties must meet specific conditions if used for tourist purposes.

“When we are mixing that residential housing with a lodging service, if we do not include particular conditions to that mix of uses, we have shown how this brings problems of coexistence, security problems not only for those who reside, but also for the users,” Pérez cautioned.

She explained that horizontal properties lack the minimum conditions required for tourist accommodations, such as special surveillance or designated personnel for check-in and check-out procedures.

Existing Regulations Remain in Force

With the bill’s shelving, the current regulations stipulate that residential complexes under the horizontal property regime must obtain approval from the assembly of co-owners and comply with land use regulations set forth in the Territorial Planning Plan (POT) to operate as tourist accommodations.

Cotelco opposed the bill’s provisions that would have allowed residential properties to be used for tourist services without proper safeguards. The association cited concerns over potential increases in cases of sexual exploitation in residential buildings due to a lack of controls over guest entry, particularly minors.

Furthermore, Cotelco argued that the proposed law could undermine the purpose of government-subsidized housing programs by enabling the properties to be used for tourist services rather than serving as residences for their intended recipients.

As Colombia navigates the complexities of the sharing economy and short-term rentals, the shelving of this bill emphasizes the need for a balanced approach that considers the interests of various stakeholders while addressing potential issues arising from unregulated tourist accommodations in residential areas.

Editor’s Notes

This is great news for a lot of property owners that don’t like Airbnb / Short Rentals in their building. I own an apartment, and a lot of the property owners in my building DO NOT want Airbnb with random strangers coming into the building. We have alot of elders and families in our building and don’t want random tourists coming in with hookers, and drugs having loud parties at 3am when we all work. This will also help with rent control in Medellin since the prices for rent are getting out of control. Owners are kicking out their tenants so they can rent their apartments on Airbnb for 10x the market rent.

If you’re looking to invest in Medellin, then you will need to look into Airbnb approved projects which are popping up all over the city of Medellin.

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