Property Clinic: What can be done about short-let comings and goings

Your property queries answered

Apartment owners can take action in case of noise or disturbance caused by visitors or overnight guests

Apartment owners can take action in case of noise or disturbance caused by visitors or overnight guests

 

Q. I own an apartment in a small block in Dublin city centre. One of the apartments in my building appears to be rented short-term as there are quite a lot of different people staying for a few days, arriving with suitcases and often waiting outside the front door of the building for someone to arrive to let them in.

Generally, the people staying are polite and quiet and very friendly, but on two occasions over the last few months there have been incidents to cause concern.

On one occasion there was a large amount of men staying and it appeared to be a stag weekend. The guests were quite loud for an entire weekend and it was quite intimidating arriving home from work to find 10 drunk men wandering through the building.

On the second occasion there was a large number of men visiting for a football match. I believe that the apartment they rent is a two-bedroom apartment but there has clearly been occasions where there have been possibly seven or eight guests staying.

While the noise is an inconvenience, I am more concerned over the safety aspects. Is this something that my management company can deal with?

A. The short-term letting of apartments through sites such as Airbnb is increasingly becoming a problem in apartment complexes in cities, particularly affecting those living in ground floor apartments or lobby areas, where common areas are becoming like hotel lobbies. Owners’ Management Companies in many complexes are reporting increased incidents of anti-social behaviour, security concerns and increased cleaning and maintenance costs associated with greater footfall and the fallout from Airbnb guests’ parties.

The good news is that your OMC should be in a position to help. Owners within an apartment complex are bound by the covenants and conditions contained within their Indenture Lease, which forms part of a property’s title and is signed by owners when purchasing. First and foremost, a typical lease will contain a ‘User’ clause usually specifying that an apartment may only be used as a single private residence.

In addition to the use of the apartment, the lease will also contain clauses outlining the rules and regulations for owners and residents within the complex. Again, these will typically cover noise, nuisance, parties, and so on, and importantly enshrine the right of each owner to the quiet enjoyment of their property. All owners are contractually bound to comply with any rules and regulations for the complex.

House rules are also provided for under Section 23 of the Multi-Unit Development Act which makes the rules binding on all owners. Your first step should be to raise your concerns with your OMC or its agent. The OMC can then consider if there have been any breaches of the covenants or house rules and request that the owner refrains from any further activity that puts them in breach of these.

If that fails, the OMC can take further legal steps to force the owner to comply with the lease covenants. The MUD Act makes specific provisions for addressing disputes within OMCs and Sections 24 and 25 deal with who can take a case under the legislation and for what. The Circuit Court will hear any cases taken under the Act, but there is the option for mediation as an alternative to taking legal action.

It is worth noting An Bord Pleanala’s recent decision in respect of an apartment in Temple Bar where it was deemed that there had been a change of use from residential to short term letting and therefore subject to planning permission. While the ruling is very much site specific and does not stop others from renting rooms and apartments through Airbnb, it does pave the way for others to take similar cases.

Aoife O’Sullivan, Chartered Property Manager and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

Send your queries to propertyquestions@irishtimes.com or to Property Clinic, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. This column is a readers’ service. Advice given is general and individual advice should always be sought.