New restrictions likely to reduce supply of short-term rental property

RTB to police short-term accommodation if Cabinet approves proposed measures

Unofficial data shows there are close to 30,000 Irish listings on Airbnb

Unofficial data shows there are close to 30,000 Irish listings on Airbnb

 

The availability of short-term property rentals on platforms such as Airbnb is likely to be significantly curtailed if a raft of new restrictions proposed by the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien targeting the sector get the green light.

The Minister is anxious to take steps to tackle the ongoing housing crisis and keen to be seen to be halting the move of landlords into the short-term letting market.

Under proposals currently being considered, short-term lettings will be subject to strict new licensing rules while the Residential Tenancies Board will be given responsibility for policing the sector.

The measures form part of the Government’s Housing for All policy programme and, if implemented, could see thousands of homes return to the long-term rental market around the country.

Mr O’Brien believes property owners should not be allowed to advertise a short-term let unless they have received planning permission to do so and he is looking to Lisbon to see if its short-term rental model can be transposed onto the Irish market.

Under rules in force in the Portuguese capital, all short-term rentals require a permit and landlords are obliged to provide details of guests to the authorities within three days of their arrival at a property. Platforms listing properties for short-term rent can be fined if they do not co-operate and allow unregistered hosts access their services.

Under the short-term letting rules in place since 2019, anyone who rents out an entire home in a so-called rent pressure zone for more than 90 days a year must apply for planning permission either on a new or retention basis.

Enforcement

The regulations are currently policed by local authorities across the State. However, there has been criticism that the rules are not being widely enforced, with many homes still being advertised without receiving the required permission.

Much of the focus in recent years has been on Airbnb although since the start of the Covid-19 crisis demand for short-term lets, particularly from overseas visitors, has plummeted and its revenues here have halved.

While Airbnb keeps details of its rentals a closely-guarded secret, unofficial data shows there are close to 30,000 Irish listings on the site, with close to half of them rooms within private homes and outside of the regulations being proposed by Mr O’Brien.

About 10,000 entire homes are “highly available” year-round on Airbnb, and the new measures would target at least some of those properties and may see them return to the long-term rental market.

Any moves which curtail the availability of Airbnb in popular tourism destinations around the country are likely to have a knock-on impact on accommodation availability and prices once international tourism resumes in a significant way in the post-pandemic period.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing told The Irish Times that details of the new measures were currently being working on between the Department of Housing and Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin’s department.