Holiday home owners in France and Spain could be prevented from renting their properties out to holidaymakers under proposed rules.

Each year, millions of UK holidaymakers rent villas and apartments directly from property owners, and often save a significant amount in the process.

New rules could prevent them from doing this unless they have a permit from the local council, for which a fee is likely to be charged.

Permits are also likely to come with stipulations such as the landlord being contactable 24 hours a day –which might not be workable for many property owners.

Opponents to the new rules say holiday makers could be forced to stay in accommodation run by large firms or stay in hotels, which could raise the cost of a holiday and mean fewer facilities.

A large proportion of the million holiday homes owned by British citizens are lived in by expatriates all year round, but many are used as holiday homes. A large number of online services have appeared in recent years to pair up landlords and holidaymakers so villas and apartments can be rented out while the owner is not in residence.

Around 75 per cent of all overnight stays in Spain were in unregulated premises, according to La Caixa bank. Hotels and holiday firms would stand to benefit from any such rule changes, while property owners could be out of pocket.

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