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Property owners refused permission to change Dublin city apartments into Airbnb-style lettings

An Bord Pleanála said granting permission would be contrary to the City Development Plan.

AN BORD PLEANÁLA has delivered an emphatic “no” to property owners seeking planning permission to change the use of their properties to Airbnb style lettings in the city centre.

This follows the appeals board refusing planning permission to Friends First Life Assurance DAC for the temporary use of six apartments at 43-44 Clarendon Street off Grafton Street for short term letting.

Friends First stated that it had discerned a demand for short-term letting of the apartments as the apartments are located in the heart of the city surrounded by hotels, cafes, restaurants and shopping streets.

However, the appeals board has refused planning permission stating that permission would be contrary to the City Development Plan which it states recognises residential units as a scarce resource and which needs to be managed in a sustainable manner so that the housing needs of the city are met.

The appeals board also stated that the temporary loss of six apartment units would be contrary to the Dublin Housing Strategy which requires that the planning and building of housing and residential space in the city contributes to sustainable and balanced development.

In its appeal, Friends First Life Assurance hit out at the failure to regularise under the planning code any system for landlords for Airbnb style lettings.

Friends First told the appeals board that “it is compelled to make this appeal for reason of the apparent absence of any method to regularise, under planning statutes, a short tenure of rental for houses and apartments”. 

The firm argued that putting the possibility of regularised short-term letting beyond the reach of all landlords defeats objectives to encourage short term business or leisure visitors to Dublin.

However, Senior Planning Inspector with the board, Jane Dennehy recommended that the city council decision be upheld as the temporary loss of the six apartments in the rent pressure zone would exacerbate the existing shortage in supply and availability of residential accommodation in Dublin’s rental market.

Dennehy said that the proposed change of use is incompatible with the lack of available permanent residential accommodation, a reversal of which is essential.

The Council refused planning permission earlier this year after its planner stated that planning permission would result “in an unwanted precedent for similar development in the area which may then result in the further unacceptable loss of long term residential rental properties in the locality”.

The Council’s planner’s report stated that the proposal “would result in existing residential stock being lost to the residential housing system, meaning less long-term and secure accommodation will be available to the growing number of families and people who need it”.

Change of use reported last week that since the new short-term let regulations came into place last month, Dublin City Council has only received eight planning applications for a ‘change of use’.

But it has seen 140 applications for exemptions to the new rules. 

Under these new laws, home-sharing on platforms such as Airbnb are only allowed where a house is a person’s primary residence inside designated ‘rent pressure zones’.

People who want to let a second property on a short-term basis now have to apply for ‘change of use’ planning permission. Just eight applications for this type of change of use have been made to the council since 1 July.

The council has received 140 ‘Form 15′ applications – which are from people looking to be exempt from the new regulations. 

With reporting by Christina Finn

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