Tourism self-catering landlords criticise ‘rushed’ new rules on advertising

Representative body says regime requiring planning permission for short-term lets causing ‘huge stress’

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien. Photograph: Laura Hutton

New rules due to be brought in next month that will penalise online platforms, such as Airbnb, that accept ads for short-term rentals without proper planning permission have been described as “rushed” by a representative body for holiday-let landlords.

The Irish Self-Catering Federation (ISCF), whose members rent out 6,000 holiday lets around the country, is also calling for clear guidelines from the Government on the application of the rules for the advertising of short-term rentals and the need for owners to apply for planning permission.

The federation is also seeking an urgent meeting with the Department of Housing to discuss the new rules, having failed to secure a meeting with the Minister in charge of the department, Darragh O’Brien.

Under existing rules, the owners of short-term holiday lets in any of the State’s 54 designated rent pressure zones (RPZs) must apply to the relevant local authority for planning permission.


Most RPZs incorporate big urban areas that have significant alternative options for tourist accommodation. Some RPZs, however, overlap with rural areas that rely heavily on tourism, such as the surrounds of Killarney, Co Kerry, or Kinsale, Co Cork.

From September 1st, platforms such as Airbnb and also the federation, because it runs a bookings service, face fines of up to €5,000 each time they advertise RPZ short-term lets that do not have the proper permission. The new rules were part of a legislative amendment brought forward by Mr O’Brien in July.

Huge stress

The federation says the system requiring planning for holiday home landlords in RPZ areas is causing “huge stress”, and in many instances owners have left the market altogether, while others complain it is extremely difficult to get the proper permission due to strict attitudes adopted by local authorities.

Federation chairwoman Máire Ní Mhurchú gave the example of a farm owner 11km outside Killarney, “halfway up a mountain”, who sought permission from the local authority for two self-catering lets on the farm. She says the owner was refused permission for short-term rental even though the properties were “unsuited” to long-term housing rental as they were in the middle of a working farm.

“There are no clear guidelines on how the rules are to be interpreted. It is making some people afraid to apply for planning permission,” she said.

Small tourism self-catering businesses were being unnecessarily “closed down”, Ms Ní Mhurchú said. “There are serious variations in how the rules are being interpreted.”

She said the federation, as a provider of a platform for bookings, will have to check that advertisers in RPZs have planning. “Yet there is no publicly available resource that allows me to go and check if everything is order,” she said. “There is no framework to back up the rules.”

The Minister has clamped down on short-term rentals to try to force some property owners to bring them back to the long-term housing market. Mr O’Brien’s spokesperson had not yet returned a request for comment before publication.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times