Airbnb criticises apparent ‘cut and paste job’ short-term letting regulations

Ireland: Airbnb has claimed measures to regulate short-term lettings and home-sharing sites appear to be ‘a cut and paste job’ from regulations in other cities.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy announced regulations for short-term lettings on Thursday that are due to come into force in June 2019. Under the new restrictions, owners of buy-to-let properties will need planning permission from local councils if they use their second homes or apartments for short-term lets, for over three months a year.

Councils will have the power to refuse permission to owners of such properties to use them for full-time, short-term lettings.

Murphy said between 1,000 and 3,000 homes in the greater Dublin area, which are currently available for holiday lettings, could come back into the long-term rental market thanks to the measure. He added that its aim was to ‘unlock stock’.

He added that in areas of high housing demand, permission would be unlikely to be given for landlords to use properties as short-term lets.

Murphy said: “Unless it’s your own home you can’t put it out for short-term letting.”

Only second property owners will be required to apply to councils for permission. Owner-occupiers will face no restrictions in letting individual rooms in their houses for short-term stays, but will only be able to let their entire homes for three months in a year.

The 90-day limit will apply over a calendar year for short-term bookings of two weeks or less at a time. In these cases, homeowners will have to inform their local authority of the number of days and specific periods that their home was let for at the end of each year.

Each local authority will maintain a register of properties being used for short-term lets, to help inform officials of the effect of the practice on the wider housing market.

Property owners found to be breaching the regulations will risk criminal prosecution. The draft regulations will be reviewed by the Oireachtas, and are to be finalised by the end of the year.

Airbnb said in a statement that there was ‘no clear rationale for the rules being proposed’.

It said: “There is no data to support a 90-night restriction on primary residences, which are by definition people’s homes, and not available on the long term rental market.

“Banning the use of secondary homes is also unlikely to significantly boost Ireland’s housing stock. This appears to be a cut and paste from regulations in other cities, without properly adapting them to the needs of Ireland’s residents and communities,” it added.

Airbnb said the restrictions go beyond protecting housing stock and instead ‘place new limits on those families who rely on Ireland’s tourism economy, which is already severely restricted in terms of capacity’.

However, The Green Party said the measures did not go far enough and failed to address the ‘full issue’ of short-term lettings.

Adrian Cummins, head of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, welcomed the regulations but said he was concerned that they would affect tourism and increase hotel room prices.

Meanwhile, homeless charity Peter McVerry Trust also welcomed the changes, adding that they would have a small but positive impact.