Murphy rules out ‘grace period’ on enforcing short-term letting ban

Minister says it will be months before benefit of July 1st changes are felt in housing crisis

AirBnB claims its business  generated more than €500m for the Irish economy in 2018. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

AirBnB claims its business generated more than €500m for the Irish economy in 2018. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has ruled out any grace period on the enforcement of new short-term letting rules saying people who rent out homes have had enough notice of the changes.

Online “home-sharing” company AirBnB raised concerns that its “hosts” who lease out homes on short-term lettings have not had sufficient time and information to adapt to the rules coming into force on Monday.

Mr Murphy said both the companies and the individuals renting out properties have had “plenty of time already” given that he had flagged the forthcoming legislative changes “the guts of a year ago”.

“This was well-signalled. The different platforms knew all about this, so did the hosts,” he told The Irish Times.

The new rules, signed into law last month, are intended to help address the shortage of available accommodation and ease the housing crisis by increasing the number of long-term rental properties.

Home owners such as AirBnB “hosts” or landlords with properties located in so-called rent pressure zones – areas of Dublin and its commuter belt, Cork, Galway and Limerick where the housing crisis is at its worst – must either register with the local authority or apply for change-of-use planning permission to let them out.

Only people who rent out a room in their home or their entire home for 90 days or less can register.

Individuals renting out a home for more than 90 days, or landlords letting out a second property to tourists or others on a short-term basis, must apply for planning permission either on a new or retention basis.

Penalty

Failure to comply carries a maximum penalty of €5,000 or six months imprisonment or both.

A spokesman for AirBnb said on Friday: “We are engaging with Dublin City Council and are continuing to update hosts on the new regulations.”

AirBnB wants the Government to allow a reasonable period of time between the new rules being finalised and enforced to help people who use its website to understand and adapt to the measures.

The San Francisco-based internet company raised a number of concerns about the new regulations, telling the Department of Housing in private correspondence in March that the constitutional rights of property owners could be infringed by the rules and that their economic cost had not been adequately assessed.

It also warned of the risk of any public register of AirBnB hosts becoming a type of “snooper’s charter” where properties could be identified as being empty.

The company estimated that AirBnB business has generated more than €500 million for the Irish economy in 2018 and has argued that clamping down on short-term letting would not fix the housing crisis.

In a sustained lobbying effort, the company wrote to its Irish hosts in April urging them to email members of the Oireachtas housing committee to urge them to introduce a grace period from the regulations.

Mr Murphy said that his department had consulted with AirBnB on the changes it was making as part of its engagement with people and companies that would be affected by the new regulations.

“The law has already changed. All the forms and regulations have already been signed. This is coming into effect on July 1st,” he said.

The Minister said he did not expect to see benefits from the new rules for a number of months following “a bedding down process”.

“We expect to see over time that those properties that are short-term letting, particularly in our cities, come back into the long-term rental stock and that should have an impact,” he said.