Ireland mulls further restrictions on short-term rentals

Ireland: The Irish government is considering whether to further restrict the short-term letting of houses and apartments.

It is considering an emergency move to suspend short-term letting which is aimed at making more homes available for those seeking long-term tenancies. It comes against the backdrop of increasing rents and a rise in the number of people who are homeless.

A bill has been proposed by Sinn Féin, the largest opposition party in the Irish parliament. “We need to crack down on the illegal short-term letting of rental homes to ensure these homes are returned to the rental system,” Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said. The current enforcement regime rests with the local authorities, but, unfortunately, it is very slow and many local authorities are not adequately resourced by government to enforce the regulations. Stricter enforcement is required, and this bill does what many of us were calling for when the regulations were first introduced.”

“The bill also allows the minister to give local authorities the power to issue spot fines to short-term lettings providers and estate agents that advertise non-compliant properties,” he added.

Advice from the attorney general on the matter is expected to be ready within a week. It will confirm if the government can quickly change the rules around properties being rented out for very short periods.

According to state broadcaster RTE there is “some degree of confidence in the Coalition that it can swiftly proceed with the measure”.

However, the advice may warn that such a change could only happen after a three month lead-in period. Any short lettings after the change is introduced would require the permission of a local authority. Property owners would still be able to rent their own private homes for a short period under the proposed changes.

The government is also aiming to have an online registration system in place by the end of the year which will regulate short-term lettings.

Figures compiled by the housing charity Threshold showed that just under 4,000 properties were available for short-term accommodation in Cork, Limerick, Dublin and Galway at the end of last year.

In 2019, a regulation was introduced which required the permission of a local authority if a property was being rented out on a short-term basis for more than 90 days a year in a rent pressure zone.

However, the opposition parties have said the rules are not being strictly enforced. An Irish Independent report said councils in only 15 counties are acting against properties that may have been let for more than 90 days. Councils in 12 counties did not issue any warning letters last year and 11 did not launch any investigations into properties that may have been rented out for longer than 90 days.