Officials are calling on the European Union to grant a ‘Balearic exception’ that would limit non-resident Brits and Germans from property purchases on the islands.
The Balearic Islands are looking to the example of the Aland Islands in Finland, where there are limits on buying second homes.
Recent Schengen addition Croatia also limits EU citizens who have not lived there for at least ten years from buying agricultural land.
Beyond the EU, Canada also recently introduced a two-year ban on property purchases by non-residents with exceptions for immigrants and legal residents.
The islands, home to popular tourist destinations such as Mallorca and Ibiza, are facing a crisis as rising property prices driven by foreign investment push out local residents and harm local businesses.
Juan Pedro Yllanes, the Balearic Islands vice-president, has said that this exception is necessary due to the ‘special circumstances’ of the archipelago.
He added that it is not a xenophobic measure intended to target foreigners ‘but about stopping non-residents from buying up homes and making it impossible for young people on the islands to afford rental places,’ he told the i newspaper.
He is seeking the support of Spain’s left-wing coalition government to pressure the EU, which has the final say on the matter.
The EU has a duty to defend the principle of free movement of goods and people throughout the bloc, which could pose a challenge for the initiative.
However, the similar exceptions that have been made in places such as Finland, Croatia and also Canada give encouragement that such an exception can be reached.
In Fornalutx, one of the most beautiful villages in Mallorca, with just over 600 residents, locals are frustrated with second homeowners who rent out their properties at prices beyond the reach of local residents.
Second home buyers from countries such as Britain and Germany who do not live in the properties have also contributed to the ‘ghost village’ phenomenon.
This speculation has contributed to the rising property prices which has in turn led to a decline in local businesses and a flatlining of everyday life.
The Balearic Islands officials believe that the EU has recognised areas of cultural significance or natural beauty, such as the Aland Islands in Finland, that should be protected from excessive outside pressure.