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Hospitality firm loses appeal to run 8 short-term let apartments in Dublin without planning permission

An Bord Pleanála rejected an appeal following a DCC decision last year.

Image: Shutterstock/LU YAO

AN IRISH HOSPITALITY firm has failed in its appeal to allow it to run eight residential apartments as short-term lets in Dublin city without planning permission. 

Irish company The Key Collections is one of the largest providers of short-term holiday rentals in the capital, operating apartments across eight complexes in the city. 

Last year, it was revealed by Fora.ie that Dublin City Council had served the company with warning letters in relation to its operation of eight short-term let apartments in Dublin 7. 

DCC had received complaints about the company allegedly leasing eight residential properties on a short-term basis in an apartment complex, called Chancery Hall, without proper planning approval.

The eight apartments are all owned by the company Sacreto Limited. Sacreto is fully owned by Roomyield Hospitality Ltd, which trades as The Key Collections. 

Sacreto had sought permission to lease the apartments on a short-term basis last year.

The company argued that if the properties were being let on a short-term basis, “no change of use has taken place and the subject unit remains in residential use”.

The council ruled in October that they had no permission to let the apartments on a short-term basis, and that full planning permission for a change of use was needed.

The council ruled that the eight apartments were intended for private residential use and not for use as a short-term lets.

Sacreto appealed this decision to An Bord Pleanála on 24 October. ABP last week upheld the council’s decision, ruling that changing the use of the apartments to short-term lets represented a development, and so full planning permission was required. 

Planning decisions 

In its decision last year, DCC referenced a government memo issued to it in 2017, which said it should consider “protecting the existing stock of residential property in areas of high demand” when ruling on planning applications for short-term lets.

It also pointed to a report that noted the impact that short-term lettings have on the country’s housing market and the negative impact a high concentration of short-term lettings can have on local communities.

Among the issues raised in its appeal, Sacreto argued that no work had been carried out on the apartments, and that the use of apartments for a short stay is acceptable under zoning objectives for the area.

The planning inspector rejected these reasons. They found that the use of the building as short-term holiday accommodation raised issues which made it different from private rented apartments. 

The planner concluded that the use of the building as a short-term let, rather than as a private rented apartment, constituted a “material change of use” and that this fell under Section 3 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

In their assessment, the inspector stated:

It should be noted that the purpose of this referral is not to determine the acceptability or otherwise of the guest accommodation but whether the matter in question constitutes development, and if so falls within the scope of exempted development.

ABP found that changing the use of the apartment constituted development and that that development was not exempt from having to apply for permission.  

Short-term lets  

Short-term holiday rentals have come under increased scrutiny in recent years as the number of properties available for rent in Dublin declines and rents continue to rise. 

The latest Daft rental report found that average rents in Dublin for properties available on the website were €1,982 in Q4 of last year, up 8.8% on the same quarter in 2017.

New short-term let regulations are due to kick in on 1 June of this year, which aim to reduce the number of full properties being rented out on a short-term basis. 

Key Collection currently operates eight short-term let complexes across the city. One complex – the Ellis Quay Aparthotel – is located next to Chancery Hall. 

Chancery Hall is currently not listed on the Key Collection website. 

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for Dublin City Council said it not discuss “companies or individuals who may or may not be subject to Planning Enforcement”.

TheJournal.ie contacted Key Collection, but no response was received at the time of publication.  

With reporting from Killian Woods for Fora.ie

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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