Simon Coveney to give councils ‘clarity’ after Airbnb ruling

Dublin City Council seeks change to planning law after decision on Temple Bar property upheld

The Department of Housing will write to local authorities outlining the Government’s position on Airbnb properties to give them “clarity”, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has said.

Mr Coveney said there is a lack of clarity around the role AirBnB plays in the property market and this needs to be addressed.

He was speaking after An Bord Pleanála upheld a Dublin City Council decision that a two-bed property in Temple Bar had undergone a material change of use due to its AirBnB activity and was thus not exempt from planning regulations.

The Minister said he believed the decision was a correct one. “But I think we also, as a department with responsibility for policy and guidelines around planning, need to provide some guidelines and clarity now for chief executives across all local authorities,” he said.


“We will work on that in the coming days and we’ll issue a letter to chief executives, in particular in local authorities in urban areas, and we’ll try to give policy clarity on it so local authorities can make decisions but also, perhaps more importantly, that property owners know where they stand.”

Mr Coveney continued: “I think AirBnb has a role to play in the broader property market but I think there needs to be clarity around what that role is, and at the moment I don’t think there is.

“I think if you own a property and you’re living there and you rent a room or you rent a house out for a few weeks of the year through AirBnB - that’s the way many, many households use it and it’s quite successful in that.

“But I think it’s a different thing when a property is for sale and it’s being advertised as having an €80,000 income from Airbnb with turnover every few days. That is effectively no different to hostel-style, b and b-style accommodation.”

Dublin City Council has said it is preparing a submission to the Department of Housing asking for an update on planning legislation to cover Airbnb lettings.

The deputy planning officer with Dublin City Council, Mary Conway told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that it was “preparing a written submission in relation to this use and a number of other proposals we think should be introduced into the planning legislation just to bring them up to date.”

Ms Conway said that the decision by An Bord Pleanála to uphold a planning decision on an apartment in Temple Bar did not set a precedent.

An Bord Pleanála upheld a planning decision that a two-bed property in Temple Bar’s Crown Alley had undergone a material change of use due to its Airbnb activity and was thus not exempt from planning regulations.

Airbnb is website that enables people to list or rent short-term lodging in residential properties.

The Temple Bar Residents (TBR) group initially took the case against the apartment to Dublin City Council in April when it discovered the property listed for sale at a price of €425,000, which TBR maintains is above the local average for similar properties of about €275,000.

“This case does not set a precedent, each Section 5 application, which is the application that the Temple Bar Residents Association took with us. Each case is site specific,” Ms Conway said.

“One ruling does not necessarily apply across the board. In any other case that seems very similar or identical - that is where somebody has an apartment and is now letting it out on a continual basis as a holiday let and where they are not resident, then based on this ruling we will consider that would be a material change of use and therefore if permission has not been granted then that person then may be liable to enforcement proceedings.”

“If you’re doing it full time on a continuous basis - in this case it was happening for upwards of a year - then we would consider that to be a material change of use,” she said.

Ms Conway said Dublin City Council had received some other complaints and would be “looking at them in the light of this decision”.

She said the council was “preparing a submission to the Department to ask them to update the planning legislation to allow for a much clearer differentiation between use as a residential apartment and use as a short term holiday let. That’s what would be really helpful to take the appropriate action against such uses.”

“We have planning legislation at the moment but it doesn’t really clearly differentiate between an apartment and somebody using an apartment as a holiday let,” she said.

“That means when we take action and we have to go to the courts and we have to prove this we’re in a very weak position,” she said.