Airbnb attacks Irish letting regime as ‘one of most restrictive’

Firms says Department of Housing’s new guidelines ‘a step in the wrong direction’

Airbnb said the guidelines “ignore” the recommendations of a joint Oireachtas committee on the matter. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Airbnb said the guidelines “ignore” the recommendations of a joint Oireachtas committee on the matter. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Airbnb has said new guidelines on planning applications for short-term lettings have rendered the State’s regime “one of the most restrictive” in Europe.

Under planning laws, changing the use of a property, such as for short-term lets through mediums such as Airbnb, requires planning permission.

The Department of Housing issued a circular to the chief executives of the State’s local authorities in recent days outlining new criteria for the consideration of such applications.

The department highlighted the issue of “potentially significant numbers” of properties being withdrawn from the long-term rental market for use for short-term lettings.

It also noted the “negative impact” this could have on supply of residential rental accommodation. “The growing use of online platforms may, if not adequately regulated, facilitate and encourage this trend,” it said.

In a statement on Thursday, Airbnb said the guidelines were “a step in the wrong direction towards one of the most restrictive regimes in Europe on how regular people can use their homes”.

“It is complex and confusing, and will increase costs, red tape and bureaucracy for everyone,” it said.

“We want to work with the Government to clearly distinguish between regular people sharing their homes and professional operators running a business, and make it easier – not harder – for families to follow the rules and share their homes.”

New guidelines

Under the new guidelines an individual applying for a change of use for short-term letting in an apartment must ensure letting does not exceed 60 nights in any one year and not more than five consecutive nights in any specific letting.

Furthermore a maximum of two rooms per apartment can be occupied per night with not more than four guests.

No more than 20 per cent of the apartments accessible on any floor from any access stairwell/lift core can be approved for short-term letting.

In relation to a house, local authorities have been instructed to have consideration for whether the property is an area where there is a high demand for housing.

They are also told to consider whether a proliferation of short-term lettings in tourist hot spots is resulting in reduced accommodation for locals and increased pressure for houses.

‘Excessively restrictive’

Airbnb said the guidelines “ignore” the recommendations of a joint Oireachtas committee on the matter. “There is a big difference between occasionally sharing space in your home and running a business,” it said.

“This guidance ignores recommendations from the joint committee and fails to distinguish between regular people sharing their homes and professional operators running a business.

“The guidance introduces one of the most excessively restrictive regimes in Europe on how local families can use their homes.

“The guidance means someone wanting to share their spare room in their apartment over a single weekend would need to apply for change-of-use permission, despite the property remaining their primary home and not actually changing from residential use.

“This will increase bureaucracy and red tape for everyone, and treats local families the same as professional operators.”

The Department of Housing has established a working group to examine the sector, which is expected to report by the end of the year.