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Councils to clamp down on Airbnb use due to potential 'negative impact' on rental sector

A letter sent to local authorities states owners should not be allowed to rent their properties for more than five nights in a row.

APARTMENTS SITUATED IN rent pressure zones may not be appropriate for Airbnb use, according to new guidelines from the Department of Housing.

In a circular notice issued to local authorities, the department recommends that apartments will require commercial planning permission to be used as short-term lets, which is restricted for up to 60 nights a year.

The letter also states that owners should not be allowed to rent their properties for more than five nights in a row.

The document, which is published on the department’s website, highlights the current planning laws, which states that the change of use of a property, such as for short-term lets through platforms like Airbnb, requires planning permission.

A maximum of two rooms per apartment can be occupied per night with no more than four guests.

No more than 20% of the apartments accessible on any floor from any access stairwell or lift core can be approved for short-term letting.

In a statement, Airbnb said:

This guidance is a step in the wrong direction towards one of the most restrictive regimes in Europe on how regular people can use their homes. It is complex and confusing, and will increase costs, red tape and bureaucracy for everyone.
We want to work with the government to clearly distinguish between regular people sharing their homes and professional operators running a business, and make it easier – not harder – for families to follow the rules and share their homes.

The company said the criteria makes Ireland “one of the  most excessively restrictive regimes in Europe”.

It added that the new criteria will only “boost red tape and bureaucracy” and will make Ireland an unaffordable destination.

The letter issued this week goes further than the letter sent by the previous Housing Minister Simon Coveney to councils last year, as it sets down clear criteria for local authorities about when and under what circumstances planning permission should be granted.

‘Negative impact’ on market 

The department notes that the issue of potentially significant numbers of properties being withdrawn from the long-term rental market for use for short-term lettings could be having a “negative impact” on supply and availability of residential rental accommodation.

“The growing use of online platforms may, if not adequately regulated, facilitate and encourage this trend,” it states.

shutterstock_634812566 Shutterstock / Grand Warszawski Shutterstock / Grand Warszawski / Grand Warszawski

It added that there are significant concerns that the use of online platforms may encourage landlords, who normally provide normal rental accommodation, to seek to obtain higher returns by moving to short-term letting, tapping in on tourist and business  customers.

Short-term lets

The issue of investors buying up properties for the sole purpose of short-term letting is also concerning, said the department.

In addition to loss of accommodation from the long-term rental market, the department said there are further adverse impacts on local communities related to high concentrations of short-term lettings in apartment blocks.

“The transient nature of short-term letting can have a disruptive effect on the daily lives and the cohesion of the owner occupier community in a multi-unit development,” the circular stated.

shutterstock_534663070 Shutterstock / Tuzimek Shutterstock / Tuzimek / Tuzimek

This issue has been highlighted previously by Labour Senator Kevin Humphries, who said that a number of Dublin apartment owners have complained about the noise levels of hen and stag parties staying in apartment blocks.

However, Airbnb deny this is the case, telling an Oireachtas committee on Housing in June that their service is not exacerbating Dublin’s housing crisis as only small numbers of bookings are used for long-term lets.

Airbnb’s director of public policy Patrick Robinson outlined a series of stats on Airbnb hosts to committee members, claiming that the vast majority of hosters were people offering up space in their own homes to earn a bit of extra money.

However, committee members criticised the company for having an “adverse” affect on the capital’s rental market.

HOUSING 695_90527655 Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy told reporters today that the guidelines issued to local authorities essentially states the current position under the current planning laws.

He said it was the criteria is “straightforward” and he expects the local councils to implement his orders.


“When we talk about home-sharing – I am all in favour of it – but it has to mean home- sharing and that is what we are trying to achieve,” said the minister.

Murphy said he understood that some people are letting their homes out to get a bit more income.

“We have to find the balance to ensure that this can continue as part of a new shared economy, but also making sure that it is not taking away houses from the long-term market that should have been there and also that it is not in breach current planning laws.”

He said the departmental working group, tasked with reviewing if new regulations should be introduced for lettings website such as Airbnb, has more work to do to better understand how Ireland should deal with it.

“We are looking at international best practice, what other cities have done, where we have high demand areas, but also areas which are tourist destinations, to make sure we are not losing a significant amount of supply of housing out of the normal market for short-term lettings,” said Murphy.

When we talk about home sharing – I am all in favour of it – but it has to mean home-sharing and that is what we are trying to achieve.

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