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More than half of Irish hosts do so to afford the rising cost of living, according to Airbnb. Alamy Stock Photo

AirBnb claims 'everyday families' rent out their homes for much-needed income

An upcoming property register is a barrier to income families “cannot afford to lose”, Airbnb says.

AN UPCOMING REGISTER which will regulate short-term tourist letting properties will prevent people from accessing “income they cannot afford to lose”, a Joint Oireachtas Committee will hear this afternoon.

Airbnb is expected to tell the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport that most Irish hosts are “everyday families” who rely on the platform’s services for additional income.

The average income for Irish hosts is €5,600 per year, according the short-term rental company’s opening statement, which is the equivalent of two months additional pay for the median Irish household.

“More than half of hosts in Ireland say they host to afford the rising cost of living, and over a third say the additional income helps make ends meet”, an AirBnb spokesperson will say. 

Airbnb’s view is that clear and simple regulation can allow home sharing to work for everyone. But regulation that makes it difficult or expensive to host will risk preventing families and communities from accessing income they cannot afford to lose.

Housing charity Threshold are also expected to raise concern about the implications of the legislation on those engaging in home-sharing.

It will ask the committee to consider the “administrative burden” that will be placed on the group if they are subject to the same requirements as others working in the short-term letting market.

Under the proposed legislation, properties advertised for short-term letting via online platforms, such as Airbnb, will be obliged to register their property with Fáilte Ireland.

Any host offering accommodation for periods of up to and including 21 nights will need to be signed up via an online portal, input their details and confirm they have planning permission, where applicable.

It’s hoped that this planning permission requirement – which the parties invited to present to the committee today are expected to seek further clarification on – will discourage some property owners from putting their properties up for short-term let and bring more properties back into long-term use.

“Complex, burdensome and incompatible with EU law”

How the bill will interact with EU legislation will also be discussed at the meeting.

A representative from global online travel business Expedia will tell committee members that the proposal before the Oireachtas is “complex, burdensome and incompatible with existing and upcoming EU law”.

Airbnb is also expected to highlight the issue.

It will advise the Government to focus on building the EU-level framework surrounding short-term rentals already on the table in Brussels and use this to inform our national policy. 

Meanwhile, Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, is expected to highlight the implications of the planning regulation piece within the bill on tourism in rural towns.

He will outline how despite a post-pandemic bounce-back, rising energy costs, global economic challenges and the Government’s “over-reliance” on tourism accommodation in housing refugees have sparked concerns over how the rural tourism sector will fare this year.

“In this context, a sharp decline in supply of short-term tourist letting is a concern for the ITIC,” he will say.

“Government is understandably trying to increase the supply of long term rentals but potentially onerous planning regulations risk denuding rural and coastal Ireland of self-catering properties just when additional tourism supply is needed most”.

Today’s meeting follows the Government giving Fáilte Ireland the green light to develop the register in December.

It is expected it could bring some 12,000 properties back into long-term use.

At a government press conference in December, it was said the legislation was on track to be passed by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

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