Q&A: Does this spell the end of Airbnb in Dublin?
While Bord Pleanála ruling is site-specific, it is likely to focus minds and yield guidelines
Airbnb visitors seek their accommodation in Temple Bar: the Airbnb service seems to be filling a gap caused by a lack of hotels. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
What has An Bord Pleanála ruled?
The board has upheld a Dublin City Council decision that an apartment in Temple Bar had been changed from residential use to short-term let and that change was not exempt from requiring planning permission.
Is a holiday home not a residential use?
The planning board says not. In this case, it said the people using the apartment were “visitors” not “residents”.
Does this spell the end of Airbnb in Dublin?
No. The ruling is site-specific. The board’s planning inspector assessed the use of this particular apartment, and considered how that use fitted in with the provisions of the planning acts, the city development plan and case law.
So it has no implications for other Airbnb operators?
Well actually it probably does. It does not automatically put a stop to other apartments or houses being used as Airbnb lets, but it is likely other people, who do not like living next to an Airbnb will take similar cases.
Would those cases have the same outcome?
Not necessarily. Again they have to be judged on the circumstances of the site, in the first instance by the local authority, and if that decision is appealed, by An Bord Pleanála. However, it is likely anyone pursuing a complaint will cite the recent decision.
Will Dublin City Council now investigate whether other apartments are being used as Airbnb lets in contravention of planning laws?
No. That’s not the way the system works. The council will act when someone makes a complaint or submission to it.
So if nobody is fussed about an Airbnb apartment, then it can continue in that use?
Yes, but while the recent decision does not set a precedent, the attention it has generated seems to have focused minds. Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said he would issue guidelines to give “policy clarity on it so local authorities can make decisions but also, perhaps more importantly, that property owners know where they stand”.
Could the Government ban the use of apartments as Airbnb holiday homes?
That is very unlikely. Airbnb, particularly in Dublin, is filling a gap caused by a lack of hotel beds, and running it out of town would be bad for tourism.
Also, Airbnb has its European headquarters in Dublin, and the Government is unlikely to put those 500 or so jobs at risk.
Is Airbnb worried about its future in Dublin?
It doesn’t seem to be. It says full-time letting is not “typical hosting activity in Ireland” and it would welcome “clear home-sharing rules”.
And is the end of the road for Airbnb lets in the Temple Bar apartment?
Not necessarily. All the planning ruling said is that using the apartment for short-term lettings is something which requires planning permission. The owners could now apply for that permission.