Take Back the City housing activists call for ‘total ban’ on Airbnb in Ireland

Ireland: Protesters from housing activist group, Take Back the City, occupied Airbnb’s Dublin offices on Saturday in protest over the platform’s ‘impact on the housing crisis’.

The Airbnb head office was open as part of an Open House Dublin architecture event which allowed public access to buildings. However, access to other offices as part of the event was denied as a result of the protest.

Shortly after 11am on Saturday a group of activists from the activist group, Take Back the City, entered the Grand Canal Dock offices with a large banner. The group ended the ‘flash occupation’ of the building about two hours later.

The group has called for a ‘total ban’ on Airbnb and similar short-term home-sharing platforms in Ireland. The campaigners claim the platforms are taking properties which could be used for long-term rental accommodation off the market.

In a short Facebook post, Open House organisers Irish Architecture Foundation said: “Sad news guys. Airbnb is cancelled for today.”

Take Back the City occupied 41 Belvedere Place in Dublin 1 in a sign of defiance against a High Court order to vacate the property.

The building is the third vacant property the activists have occupied since early August as part of a protest over the amount of vacant housing in Dublin.

The government has been considering introducing legislation to regulate short-term letting platforms.

One activist, Conor Reddy, said short-term letting platforms were ‘compounding’ the housing shortage in the capital and the flash occupation was for a campaign to target symbolic buildings.

He said: “There are the offices of vulture funds around that area of the city, so they are potential targets.”

He added the group was looking to take the campaign to a ‘larger scale, branch out of the city centre into the suburbs’ and grow into a national protest movement.

In a statement, Take Back the City said Airbnb had ‘exacerbated the housing crisis in Dublin and Ireland as a whole’.

It said: “Our tenant support groups frequently hear from people who have been evicted on grounds of ‘significant renovations’, only to find their old homes subsequently rented out on Airbnb and other short-term letting platforms.”

The statement said there were three times more properties available on Airbnb in Dublin than were being advertised on the long-term rental market.

It added that there was a 63 per cent increase in 2017 in Airbnb usage across Ireland, while over the same period, homelessness figures in the country rose by 2,000.