Barcelona's residents are protesting against rising rent prices many blame on tourists and the popularity of short-term rentals on sites such as Airbnb. As Kate King reports, the local city council is now working on ways to make sure its residents aren't priced out.
92-year-old Montserrat Ferraz has lived in this Barcelona flat most her life. Her children took their first breath here, her husband his last. Leaving, never crossed her mind - until the building was bought by an investor. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) POBLE NOU RESIDENT, RETIRED, MONTSERRAT FEREZ, 92-YEARS-OLD, SAYING: "Foreigners are coming in and they buy or rent flats in the neighbourhood and they make us leave. I haven't been told to go yet but I can see it coming." Her story is a familiar one. The rise of short term rental sites like Airbnb providing a platform for foreigners to cash in on Spain's tourism market. It's also netting bigger fish. Investment funds are snapping up entire buildings, and then attempting to pay off residents with nowhere else to go. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF EL RAVAL, SHIPLU AHMED, 31-YEARS-OLD, SAYING: "This is a very tough moment for me, I can't move to another place because right now central Barcelona is very expensive and rents go up every year." A year ago the city council had fewer than 10 regulators looking into illegal flats - it now plans to add 100 more. It's also struck a deal with Airbnb to try and regulate the market. That's seen around a thousand of the roughly 6-thousand unlicensed flats in Barcelona, removed from the site. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BARCELONA CITY HALL CHIEF OF URBAN PLANNING, JANET SANZ, SAYING: "If apartments are used for tourist rentals, without regulation or controls, people can end up homeless because the money earned from renting to tourists is greater than for residential lets. We are trying to make sure this doesn't happen." 30 million tourists visit these sun-filled shores each year. While grateful for the money they generate - Barcelona's residents want people to know it's a city not a resort. .