People renting out rooms on Airbnb will need licence under new plan

Minister for Housing plans new licencing system for Airbnb

People renting out their homes on Airbnb may have to get a licence under new rules to be brought in by the Government.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said he would be introducing the new licensing system for short-term lettings, in comments that did not mention Airbnb by name. However any such rules would directly impact Airbnb lettings.

The online room rental service has grown strongly around the world and in Ireland over the last number of years. But the growth is not without controversy. It emerged in July that Dublin City Council was investigating 25 suspected cases of homes being illegally used as Airbnb or other holiday rental accommodation.The council's planning enforcement department took action in relation to complaints that the homes, most of which are apartments, are being used as short-term rentals without planning permission. An Bord Pleanála last year upheld a council decision that an apartment in Temple Bar had been changed from residential use to short-term letting and that change was not exempt from requiring planning permission.

Speaking to reporters at the National Ploughing Championships in Co Offaly on Tuesday, Mr Murphy said: "The rise of the sharing economy has led to a growth in the availability of short-term lettings for tourism purposes, with a corresponding need for an increased supply of rental properties in those same areas,"


He said a cross-Government working group including the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Fáilte Ireland will come up with the licensing and regulatory system.

“This will take more time to develop. In the meantime, I have instructed my Department to prepare specific guidance and advice for local authorities, which should issue in the coming weeks, to inform their decision-making on planning applications related to short-term lettings.

He added: “Just to be clear, I think that home-sharing - renting a room in your house for overnight guests or letting your whole home while you are on holidays - is a good idea. This can be an important source of income, helping ‘home-sharers’ meet the costs of mortgages, rents or other household expenses - and actually supporting tenure security. It also supports tourism and associated economic activity and even social and cultural exchange.

“But home sharing needs to mean actually home sharing.

“When landlords who normally provide residential rental accommodation turn to short-term lettings or when investors purchase residential units for the same purpose, these homes are lost to the housing system, and can exacerbate the already tight supply of properties for normal renting.”

Patrick  Logue

Patrick Logue

Patrick Logue is Digital Editor of The Irish Times