Airbnb rentals to be targeted in Government crackdown

Tighter control of short-term letting part of Darragh O’Brien’s solution to housing crisis

Under the Minister for Housing’s plans, a property will not be allowed to be advertised on the Airbnb platform without the requisite planning permission. Photograph: iStock

Under the Minister for Housing’s plans, a property will not be allowed to be advertised on the Airbnb platform without the requisite planning permission. Photograph: iStock

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The Government is planning a new crackdown on short-term Airbnb rentals as well as vacant homes and sites.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien on Wednesday night appeared before the parliamentary party meetings of Fine Gael, the Green Party and his own party, Fianna Fáil, to discuss the Government’s attempts to address the housing crisis.

At the Fine Gael meeting, Mr O’Brien said his department was close to concluding a piece of work on how to further regulate short-term lettings through platforms like Airbnb.

Under the plans, he said, a property would not be allowed to advertise on the platform without the requisite planning permission.

At present, 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. There has been criticism, however, that this is not adequately regulated and homes are still being advertised without permission.

Urban and rural harm

Senator Tim Lombard said that Airbnb properties were “soaking up” the rental market and harming rural and urban Ireland by ensuring affordable rental properties were not available.

Mr O’Brien also told the Fine Gael meeting that the vacant sites levy was not effective and needed to be revisited. Separately, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told his party in a letter that a vacant homes levy may need to be introduced.

The Fine Gael leader said he also believed the Coalition would need to re-examine the role of approved housing bodies and local authorities which would continue to be allowed to bulk-buy housing estates.

He said the Government could “look again at a vacant home tax and examine long-term lease arrangements where the asset does not revert to State or occupant at the end of the lease”.

Construction financing

Mr Varadkar said the State needed about 35,000 new homes every year for the next 10 years.

“It will cost about €120 billion to finance the construction of these 350,000 new homes. That’s much more than the bank bailout and pandemic combined. There is no way the State or public could take on that level of debt at any interest rate so we do need private developers and private finance as well as public investment.”

He also defended the increased new 10 per cent stamp duty on purchases of more than 10 properties which was passed by the Dáil, saying that the Government had the option to increase the amount if it was not effective.

Senior Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan told a private meeting of his party that Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits) should be banned from buying any residential property, but still be allowed to build housing units.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he wanted supply to be increased to 40,000 homes a year over the next decade.

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