Darragh O'Brien, speaking [Credit: Darragh O'Brien TD]

Ireland plans to buy empty Airbnb properties

UK: In an interview with Irish publication The Journal.Ie, Ireland’s new housing minister Darragh O’Brien has confirmed an interest in purchasing empty Airbnbs.

O’Brien suggested the measure as a part of the government’s July Stimulus package, in an attempt to help increase housing stock in Ireland.

Ireland has been attempting to limit the presence of Airbnbs in major cities since last year. Former housing minister Eoghan Murphy introduced measures limiting the maximum number of nights in a stay, and the number of days in a year a property can be let.

Commenting on the former policies, O’Brien said: “The problem is they were brought in quite quickly, they were a bit rough and ready… The biggest issue, when the regulations were put in place, was the resources to implement it and to oversee those regulations weren’t put in place.”

Cities such as Dublin have been looking at Airbnbs to help solve housing crises, with around 5,000 full homes in the city listed on the platform. It chose to deny a variety of permits for short-term lets earlier this year, foreshadowing a shift in policy to prevent operators renting properties in the city centre full-time.

The coronavirus has hastened many of these developments, as many short-term lets in the city have returned to the traditional rental market due to travel restrictions. O’Brien hopes to use some of these empty lets to help solve some of the various housing problems in the country.

O’Brien added: “It is something that I want to do frankly. If there are opportunities for the state to buy, at reasonable prices, so we can house people and then they can rent them on a secure basis from the state, then we should.”

The minister also suggested he would look at strengthening tenants’ rights, as well as help-to-buy schemes for first time homeowners. The scheme is due to be published this week.

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