Kerry County Council begins crackdown on short-term lets, unregistered B&Bs

Council unit to focus on Killarney first, after town was designated rent pressure zone

Kerry County Council has begun a crackdown on short-term lets and unregistered bed and breakfasts in Killarney, in a move which operators have criticised.

Owners of 45 premises targeted in Killarney in the past two weeks have been advised they need planning permission to operate short-term letting, or risk being fined up to thousands of euro under the Planning and Development Acts.

Killarney was designated a rent pressure zone (RPZ) last April, as a result of rising rent prices and a shortage of housing. Short-term letting of a house, apartment, or a room within, is defined as any period not exceeding 14 days.

A 90-day exemption exists where a home is being shared, however this must be registered with the local authority.

A specialised unit has been established within Kerry County Council as part of a national operation to encourage more long-term letting and lower prices in RPZs.

The unit is going on local knowledge of properties, and searching through online advertisements, including those on social media. The unit will initially focus on Killarney, but that will expand over time, a spokesman said.

“The letting of a property on a short-term basis, notwithstanding where it is in the county, is a material change of use of the property concerned and requires planning permission,” the council spokesman said.

The same rules apply to bed and breakfasts, the spokesman added.

“Any owner-occupied bed and breakfasts operating within the RPZ that do not have the required planning permission are subject to the registration process.”

However Killarney hotelier Niall O’Callaghan questioned the timing of the operation.

Regulation is needed in the tourist letting market, Mr O’Callaghan said, in order to prevent the full burden of insurance costs falling only on registered operators.

“People are under pressure in Killarney and are trying to come out of the pandemic. This could have waited until the autumn, is my view,” said Mr O’Callaghan who is an Independent town councillor.

To date 45 warning letters have issued under the provisions of Section 152 of the Planning and Development Act 2000-2020 in respect of the use of properties for short-term letting purposes.