Barcelona has been cracking down on illegal apartment rentals lately.
The Spanish city has closed about 2,000 of them for operating without a license, and slapped Airbnb with a fine of €600,000 (US$700,000) for allowing listings for unlicensed apartments on its website.
The company has since agreed to ban illegal rentals in Barcelona—though it has yet to pay the fine.
Airbnb's move hasn't kept illegal listings from other sites and social media accounts, however. And for bewildered tourists who would like to abide by the law, Barcelona's city council has introduced a new online tool.
At www.fairtourism.barcelona, you can enter the street addresses of apartment rentals you've found elsewhere (do it before booking one of them, obviously), and the site will tell you whether those places are legit or not.
The city is seeking to limit vacation rentals because they've made many apartments unaffordable for residents. Unscrupulous building owners have hiked up rents to drive away tenants, deciding they can make more money from a stream of short-term visitors.
But that has left Barcelona's historic core without many locals. "On any one night," The Guardian says, "fewer than half the people sleeping in the old part of Barcelona are residents."
As convenient and affordable as vacation rentals can be, wouldn't it be a shame if you showed up in Barcelona and couldn't find any Barcelonans?