There appears to be an air of wait-and-see among tourism officials, Airbnb hosts and local authorities about how regulations coming in to force on Monday will operate and what impact they will have.
Under the guidelines introduced by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, short-term accommodation hosts or landlords with properties in Rent Pressure Zone (RPZs) must register with local authorities or apply for planning permission to continue operating.
Registrations will restricted to those renting rooms in their own homes or letting out an entire property for no more than 90 days a year while anyone looking to let a property on a short-term basis for more than 90 days a year will need planning permission.
A spokeswoman for Failte Ireland said the regulations were a balancing act which aimed to find a "solution that addresses the homeless crisis in RPZs whilst attempting to protect the tourism industry which is a key economic driver for Ireland".
She said the tourism authority was “focused on understanding how these regulations will affect the business operations of tourism interests in these areas and the practicalities of how the regulations will be implemented.”
Dublin has around 3,000 properties listed on the Airbnb platform with some hosts earning six figure sums and it is in the capital that the regulations are likely to face their sternest test.
Change of use
So far this year less than 20 property owners have applied for change of use planning in Dublin and of those who have made an application, most have been refused on the basis that it would exacerbate the housing shortage in the capital.
Dublin City Council will have responsibility for ensuring the rules are adhered to and a spokeswoman told The Irish Times that it had put "a detailed case to the Department of Housing for appropriate resourcing to deal with the implications and enforcement (insofar as is possible) of these regulations".
She said additional resourcing had recently been approved and the authority was about to start a recruitment process “for staff to deal exclusively in this area”.
She said a department would be resourced “in the coming months which will lead to a more proactive approach in this area. The Planning Enforcement Section in the meantime will deal with these regulations insofar as is practical having regard to all priorities within the section.”
Mr Murphy said the council would have enough resources to enforce the short-term letting rules but he acknowledged there would be “a bedding down and adjustment period”.
He said the council already had planning staff working on short-term letting for several years and that it would be adding a further 12 staff to deal with planning applications over the next couple of months.
“The only thing that is happening on Monday as far as their planning authority is concerned is that the law is now changing so their planning officers are in place and will have to work to those new laws,” he said.
“Resources are there and they are available. The planning authorities are already there and they are well aware of the legal changes that are coming into effect next week.”
One Airbnb host who rents a three-bedroom home outside Waterford City for between €50 and €120 a night expressed surprise that she had received no correspondence from the company about the possible impact the new regulations would have on her business.
She said she had been renting a home in its entirety since the beginning of the year and had bookings taking her up to the end of July.
“We haven’t a word from Airbnb about what if any impacts the new regulations will have,” she said. “I heard there was something happening but I am not entirely sure what they will mean for me.”