Government cracks down on Airbnb while land agency gets further €300m in funding

Seen and heard: new rules for AirBnB hosts, more funding for LDA, Gym Covid passes

Airbnb hosts will be subject to strict new licensing rules as part of a Government crackdown designed to stem the flight of landlords into the short-term letting market, according to a report in the Sunday Business Post.

The measures, which will form part of the Government’s Housing For All policy programme, could return thousands of homes to the rental market around the country.

Darragh O'Brien, the Minister for Housing, told the newspaper that under the new scheme, property owners will not be able to advertise a short-term let unless they have received "the requisite planning permission" to do so.

"I've had a number of meetings back and forth between my officials and the Department of Tourism, and the bottom line is that we will be bringing in a licensing regime similar to the one that's operating in Lisbon, " he said.


Land agency to get €300m more to build houses

Darragh O'Brien, the Minister for Housing, is to increase the borrowing power of the new Land Development Agency (LDA) by as much as €300 million as part of the eight-year Housing for All plan, the Sunday Times reports.

The aim is to deliver thousands more affordable houses in the next two to three years, according to Government sources. Details of the plan – approved in principle by Paschal Donohoe, the Minister for Finance – will be finalised at a Cabinet subcommittee meeting this week before going forward to a full Cabinet decision next week.

Legal challenges to schemes adding €12,000 to house prices

Judicial reviews of housing schemes add at least €8,000 to €12,000 to the cost of new homes, the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) has warned the Government, according to a report in the Sunday Independent.

The new analysis sent to Government by SCSI estimates for the first time the direct impact on house prices of the huge number of legal challenges to major housing schemes.

The report also urges the Government to “avail of low interest rates and to back a recommendation by the ESRI for the State to double its current investment in housing” from €2 billion to €4 billion

No ‘Kildare Village’-style scheme in Cork, planning regulator warns

The planning regulator has issued a fresh warning to Cork County Council reiterating that a Kildare Village-style €100 million outlet centre should not be developed in the county, the Sunday Business Post reports.

Last year Peter Burke, the Minister for Planning, told the local authority to remove any mention of an outlet centre from its draft development plan for 2022 to 2028. A new draft of the document was published in April 2021. It included a detailed section about how an outlet centre could be successfully integrated into the area and not impinge on core city and town retail centres.

Cork County Council said it would undertake a detailed evidence-based assessment to “confirm the need for such developments” and “identify potential suitable locations”.

Insurers to appoint and pay ‘independent’ experts who oversee compliance with law

Insurers will appoint and pay the “independent” experts tasked with overseeing their compliance with competition law, as part of an agreement reached with the watchdog after a five-year investigation, according to the Sunday Business Post.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) last week closed its long-running probe into alleged cartel-like behaviour across the motor insurance industry, after securing legally binding commitments from insurers that they would reform their internal competition law compliance programmes.

In a development that is likely to raise concerns over the effectiveness of the deals struck by the CCPC with insurers and the impact they will have on reducing premiums, the Business Post has learned that the “independent external oversight” to which they will be subjected will be provided by individuals appointed and paid for by the companies themselves.

Ben Dunne says gym sector needs a vaccine pass plan

Former supermarket supremo Ben Dunne says his eponymous no-frills gym chain has shed some 30,000 members since the start of the pandemic – and he is calling on the Government to emulate other jurisdictions, by compelling the public to show vaccine passes at gyms, in order to help the fitness industry recover from the crisis, according to a report in the Sunday Independent.

The first wave of restrictions in March 2020 led to the temporary closure of all 10 Ben Dunne Gyms, which had a combined 53,000 members in 2019.

Dunne vowed last summer not to reopen his gyms until a vaccine or effective treatment for Covid was found. Since then, Dunne has thrown in the towel at three of his locations..