Accommodation service not affected by short-term lets rule due to 14-night minimum stays

Sonder Holdings growing its Dublin portfolio of serviced apartments

A service that provides apartments for hotel-type lettings in Dublin for stays of 14-nights or more is not affected by the restrictions on short-term rentals introduced in July 2019. *

Sonder Holdings Inc, which has its headquarters in San Francisco , offers serviced apartments in two adjacent buildings on Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin 1, and in a high-end luxury apartment building in the Grand Canal Dock in Dublin 2.

It has recently contracted for a further 91 “units” in the Dublin 1 area, according to a recent statement from the multinational, whose shares are quoted on the New York Stock Exchange.

The latest accounts for the Dublin subsidiary of the multinational say it provides accommodation that “brings together the authenticity of peer-to-peer home rentals, plus the dependable elevated services of a hotel”.

Founded in 2014, Sonder provides quality studios and apartments in buildings that don’t have lobbies, reception desks or dining rooms like classic, staffed hotels, but do allow for services to be called up over its dedicated phone app.

The multinational has approximately 6,300 “units” in more than 35 cities and bookings can be made over its own website or via platforms such as Airbnb or Booking.com.

Sonder’s apartments on Gardiner Street are in two adjacent buildings that were formerly used as short-term accommodation for men recovering from drug addiction problems. More recently the building was used for the letting of serviced apartments by a Dublin family involved in the hotel business, but they are now being leased by Sonder.

According to the most recent accounts for Sonder Hospitality Ireland Ltd, it entered into a 10-year lease in August 2019 for the Dublin Central Suites, 38-39 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin 1.

In the same month, it entered into a number of leases for apartments in the Opus building, at 6 Hanover Quay, in the Grand Canal Dock in Dublin 2. These leases will run to January 2025, according to the accounts.

Canal dock

Apartments in the concierge-serviced Opus Building have floor-to-ceiling glass walls looking out on the canal dock. A two-bed, two-bathroom apartment in the building is currently being advertised online for long-term rental at a rent of €3,700 per month.

On the Sonder website, a two-bed apartment with a balcony in the building is available for $312 (€296) a night. The minimum stay allowed is 14 nights.

Sonder provides accommodation in a number of cities in the US as well as in European cities such as Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Amsterdam.

In an announcement to the markets in April, Sonder said it was adding four new hotels to its portfolio in London, new units to a location in Edinburgh, and had contracted for 91 new units in Dublin 1.

It also said it is to open its first hotel in Dublin later this year. The “26 key” hotel will be on Leeson Street, close to St Stephen’s Green, in a 19th-century Georgian building that is being updated.

Sonder’s 14-night minimum stay properties in Ireland are not affected by the restrictions on short-term lettings introduced by the Government in July 2019.

The restrictions, which are aimed at curtailing the use of residential accommodation in the short-term rental market in rent pressure zones, only apply to lets of less than 14 days in property that does not have the requisite planning permission. “Sonder does not operate short-term rental in residential properties in Dublin,” a Sonder spokesperson said.

“Sonder Britain Quay [the Hanover Quay apartments] offers stays of 14-nights or more, in line with regulations. Sonder Mountjoy Square [the Gardiner Street apartments] and the upcoming Sonder property on Leeson Street are classified as tourist accommodation.”

The accounts for Sonder Hospitality Ireland Ltd say that during 2020 it had revenue of €3.5 million arising from its Irish rental properties, and paid out €2.5 million in rent.

It also incurred legal, cleaning and hospitality costs that totalled €164,657. It produced a loss for the year of €5,659.

* This article was amended on May 27th, 2022.