Council to crack down on Airbnb property owners who flout law

Dublin City Council expects to have 12 additional staff to enforce rules on short-term lets

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy introduced rules banning year-round short-term lets in rent pressure zones. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy introduced rules banning year-round short-term lets in rent pressure zones. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Dublin City Council will next month crack down on users of short-term letting sites such as Airbnb who are flouting regulations.

In a letter to Sinn Féin councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh, officials from the council confirmed it would “proactively” seek out properties using the sites outside strict rules on short-term lets, introduced by the Government earlier this year.

To date, the council has relied on complaints from members of the public to guide its enforcement activity. However, it expects to have additional resources in place by the end of next month that will allow it to ramp up its enforcement of the rules on short-term lets.

The Department of Housing has sanctioned the hiring of 12 additional staff. While only two positions have been filled so far, the council believes the remaining staff will be hired by the end of November.

“Once the additional staff are in place we will be proactively pursuing properties that are advertising on the relevant accommodation websites,” a council official wrote to Ms Ní Dhálaigh.

Under the new rules, which came into force in July, year-round short-term lets are banned in rent pressure zones. Those renting their homes for less than 90 days must register for an exemption with their local authority, while planning permission for a change of use must be obtained for anyone renting out a property on a short-term basis for more than 90 days.

Breaching the rules is an offence, and those prosecuted can be subject to criminal sanctions on conviction in court. Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin welcomed the new approach from the council. “While it would have been better if the Department of Housing had provided the funding for the staff in advance of the passing of the legislation it is nonetheless good news that the council will, from November, be in a position to proactively go after non-compliant short-term lettings.”

Proof of compliance

Mr Ó Broin called on the Government to toughen up rules and place a more onerous burden on websites such as Airbnb to ensure those advertising on the website were compliant with the rules on short-term letting. This could be achieved by forcing platforms to obtain proof of a change-of-use planning permission or an exemption to the rules from those using its site, he said.

“If platforms were faced with stiff fines for advertising non-compliant properties you can be sure the level of compliance would increase dramatically,” he said.

When asked about introducing such rules at the Oireachtas housing committee earlier this year, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said: “This is a responsibility that will fall to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. ”

Dublin City Council has received 109 complaints about non-compliance with the rules since they went into effect, and has issued the same number of warning letters, as well as 35 enforcement notices relating to short-term lets.

The local authority has received 195 notifications for exemptions to the rules, and just 10 planning applications for short-term letting purposes. Data from the website InsideAirbnb suggests there are 7,500 short-term lets in Dublin.