The Government is to tighten the rules around allowing properties in areas of high housing demand to be used for short-term lets – such as Airbnbs.
Owners of buy-to-let properties will have to get planning permission from local councils if they want to use their second homes or apartments for short-term lets, such as Airbnbs, for more than three months every year.
Councils will have the power to refuse permission to owners of such properties to use them for full-time, short-term lettings.
Only owners of second properties will have to apply to councils for permission. Owner-occupiers will face no restrictions in letting individual rooms in their houses for short-term stays but will only be able to let their entire homes for three months in a year. The 90-day limit will apply over a calendar year for short-term bookings of two weeks or less at a time.
The move follows on from concerns that landlords who would previously have offered properties to tenants on the basis of traditional annual or multi-year leases are opting to let houses and apartments in sought-after areas to tourists instead. It will now be more difficult to withdraw such units from the residential rental market.
The development is likely to benefit to areas with high housing demand, such as cities. Dublin City Council will be given more resources to oversee and implement the new system because of the "acute pressure on rents in the Dublin area".
Last night, the Department of Housing published national homelessness figures showing there were 9,698 people, including 3,829 children, in emergency accommodation last month. Overall homelessness has gone up by 171 since August, while the number of homeless children has gone up by 136, from 3,693.
The proposals from Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy will require changes to planning law and are expected to take effect from next summer.
Owners of second properties will have to apply for a “change of use” planning permission, although properties already classified for tourism and short-term letting will not be affected.
Mr Murphy said “it is unlikely that permission would be granted” to change the status of second properties to allow for short-term lets in areas of “high housing demand”.
The Department of Housing is expected to provide guidance to councils on how to grant or refuse such permissions.
Legislative change is required, meaning the support of some Opposition parties will be needed to pass the measures through the Dáil and Seanad.
It is expected that Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin will be broadly supportive of the thrust of the plans, with Darragh O'Brien and Eoin Ó Broin, the housing spokesmen of the respective parties, having advocated restrictions on short-term lets in the past.
Mr Murphy is to brief the Oireachtas Committee on Housing – which has already produced a report in this area – in the coming days. The aim of the reforms, he said, is to "bring homes, once available on the traditional rental market, back into typical long-term renting".
The new system will come into effect from June 2019, with legislation passing through the Dáil and Seanad by the end of the year.
“Essentially, the reforms will introduce a ‘one host, one home’ model in areas where there is high housing demand,” Mr Murphy said. “Homesharing will continue to be permissible where it is a person’s primary residence, and people will have to now register with their local authority as such.”