Idealista Wins Legal Fight Over Responsibility of Listings Content in Barcelona

October 21, 2021
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Authorities in the Spanish region of Cataluña have closed the cases against Idealista which could have seen the portal company fined hundreds of thousands of Euros over alleged breaches of local laws governing rentals in Barcelona.

In February, the regional Catalan government opened the process to levy fines on five property portals (Idealista, Pisos.com, Fotocasa, Yaencontré and Habitaclia) for not including the rental price index in their listings with each fine potentially amounting to €10,000 for the portals.

The move came after the government received 248 complaints, the majority sent by a local tenant advocacy organisation, back in December.

The rental price index is part of a recently enacted law in the Spanish autonomous region which states that real estate rental listings must include an index of the average price per square meter for the neighbourhood they're located in. The legislation was designed to limit rental prices and halt gentrification in 60 of the tensest rental markets in which rental prices are forcing locals out.

The portals had argued that the responsibility to include the index lay with the user or agency that uploaded each listing; an argument which, according to a statement from Idealista circulated to journalists this afternoon, has been upheld by the Catalan Agency for Consumption (ACC).

At stake in the case was much more than just the fines. The argument of the regional government was that Idealista and other portals are the parties that are ultimately responsible for all content on their websites. By throwing out the cases, the authorities are tacitly recognising that, in cataluña at least, portal companies are not legally responsible for the content of the listings on their platforms.

Now that the regional government of Cataluña has ditched the fines for Idealista (and presumably the other 4 portals), Idealista expects the local Barcelona city hall to do likewise with the parallel complaints it had against the firm.

This is not the first time that Idealista has butted heads with authorities in Barcelona. In June 2o2o the city council levied a fine of €90,000 at the portal for an allegedly discriminatory listing. The crux of the case was that for the fine to be upheld, Idealista had to be considered as a 'real estate brokerage' something that the Madrid headquartered company flatly denied.

October 21, 2021
Since March 2020 Edmund's job has been to read about, write about, collect data on, analyse and generally know about real estate marketplaces and the companies that run them. Before that he worked at the aggregator Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect) for five years.

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