Airbnb-style Dublin let still operating despite conviction

Apartment subject of only city conviction for unauthorised short-term rental now available for fortnight breaks

The Dublin apartment which was the subject of the only conviction secured by Dublin City Council for illegal short-term letting is still in the holiday rental market due to a legislative loophole.

Last May, the council secured its first and only conviction for unauthorised short-term letting when Judge Anthony Halpin imposed a €1,000 fine and costs of €3,459 against Complete Guest Management Ltd, for the letting of apartment 18 Adelaide Square, Whitefriar Street.

However, the apartment has not returned to the rental market, is still available for holiday lets and the council said it is powerless to tackle the issue because the property owners are operating within the terms of the legislation.

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Planning permission

Legislation to curb the use of homes in rent pressure zones for Airbnb-style accommodation came into force in 2019 with property owners required to secure planning permission for holiday letting, unless it is in their own home which they rent out for less than 90 days a year.


Just 36 people sought permission from the city council for short-term letting. The council has opened investigations into 1,600 properties it suspects are being used for unauthorised short-term letting and has moved to court action in relation to six. In four cases, the illegal use has stopped, one case is in court next month and one conviction was secured in relation to the Adelaide Square apartment.

However, the latter property is still available on several holiday rental sites. “Dublin City Council is aware that this property is being advertised on various platforms,” it said.

The apartment is available for fortnight stays, which brings it into compliance with the legislation which defines short-term letting as “any period not exceeding 14 days”.

“The property is advertised with minimum bookings settings to bring the property listing outside of the definition of short-term letting,” the council said. “An attempt to make a short-term booking on the Airbnb platform today shows the ‘14-night minimum’ setting applied thereon,” it said, similarly “the platform shows that it is not possible to make a short-term booking, as defined. Further investigation into recent guest reviews show the length of stays as greater in duration than 14 days”.

Effective legislation

Under this limit “very little if any housing would go back into the long-term letting market”, said Threshold chief executive John-Mark McCafferty. “We want to see effective legislation that’s channelling short-term let accommodation back into the longer-term rental sector. This doesn’t cut it”.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing said the 14-day threshold was in 2019 considered “a reasonable period for the purposes of determining what constitutes short-term letting”. New legislation to regulate the sector, under examination by European Commission, would increase this definition a week to 21 days, he said.

The Department of Tourism said it was Fáilte Ireland’s assessment that “a short-term stay/holiday will generally occur over a period of a maximum of three weeks”.

The firm which operates the Adelaide Square apartment did not respond to requests for comment.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times