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Just 8 'change of use' planning applications submitted to Dublin City Council

The council has received 140 exemption applications to the new rules since they came into play a month ago.

Image: Shutterstock/Michael Kellner

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. 

The Housing Department has said that in areas of high housing demand in Rent Pressure Zones – such as Dublin or Cork – it’s unlikely that planning permission or any exemptions would be granted at all.

‘Very slow’

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys, who has been vocal about the impact short-term lets are having on the renting crisis in Dublin, told TheJournal.ie that the pace at which change of use applications are being submitted is “very slow”. 

He said he is hoping the new laws will have an impact, and speaking about his own constituency in the south inner city, he said a number of properties that were short-term lets have been returned to the long-term rental market, which he welcomes. 

However, he said the small number of planning applications could be because the department and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy have been very clear that properties in rent pressure zones will not be granted planning permission. 

Speaking about the new rules in an Oireachtas committee, the minister said he wanted to be clear that he doesn’t want someone from Temple Bar to think they can “chance their arm and get through a gap – if you are in an RPZ you will not be able to let a second property for short-term letting”. 

The minister did state a common sense approach will allow local councils “who believe there is scope to show some flexibility” in some rent pressure zones. This comment was in response to Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien who raised concerns about areas within rent pressure zones which are not experiencing rent problems.

No enforcement during live applications

In the same committee meeting, the minister said that enforcement action would not be taken against a property owner while there is a live application. 

This was a statement that disappointed Humphreys, who added that the number of exemption applications submitted to Dublin City Council means that no action can be taken against these property owners, who can continue to rent their properties on short-term letting platforms until the local authority makes a decision. 

Humphreys said such a statement by the minister “undermined” the new regulations, adding that some property owners may simply be drawing out the process in order to continue to let out their properties during the summer on platforms such as Airbnb. 

Speaking about the low number of applications, Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said Dublin City Council need to take a “very aggressive” approach to properties that are not compliant. 

Humphreys told TheJournal.ie that he is concerned about the level of resources being dedicated to the council by the housing department, stating that no additional resources have been allocated as of yet, though five additional enforcement officers have been approved. 

Council resources

Dublin City Council has previously said it will need up to €750,000 to set up a dedicated team to enforce new short-term letting rules in the city – €350,000 more than originally thought. 

According to the latest figures from Inside Airbnb, there are 9,902 listings in Dublin and 4,315 of these were by hosts with multiple listings. 

The council, which is by far the largest in terms of short-lettings and so requires additional resources, has said it plans to set-up a dedicated task force with a number of additional staff members to enforce the new regulations over the coming months. 

Questions have been raised recently as to why the local authority was not adequately resourced prior to the new regulations coming into effect. 

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