Friday 9 December 2016

Use Airbnb? Here are the stricter new rules on the way

Published 21/10/2016 | 02:30

This week, the residents at Spencer Dock apartment complex were issued with a blanket ban of short-term rents (Stock picture)
This week, the residents at Spencer Dock apartment complex were issued with a blanket ban of short-term rents (Stock picture)

A clampdown on Airbnb is imminent with specific guidelines for when a house or apartment ceases to be a residence and becomes a commercial premises.

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Local authorities around the country are to be issued with new rules that could affect the status of thousands of Airbnb hosts.

It comes after Housing Minister Simon Coveney backed a judgment by An Bord Pleanála which found an apartment in Dublin's Temple Bar was rented out so often using the website that it constituted a business.

His officials are now to draw up guidelines that will stop property owners from operating hostel or B&B-style accommodation under the guise of Airbnb.

Department sources told the Irish Independent they do not want to curtail the "normal" use of Airbnb, which allows homeowners to rent out rooms to holidaymakers for short stays.

However, officials will look at the split of time between a property being used as a home and for short-term letting.

"The department intends to have specific objective measures/thresholds to guide local authority decisions," the source said.

Speaking as he launched a consultation process on the rental crisis yesterday, Mr Coveney said Airbnb has "a role to play in the broader property market but there needs to be clarity around what the role is".

There was significant debate about the online service last year when Revenue Commissioners said they would be seeking to pursue tax arrears and interest from Airbnb hosts who had failed to pay tax on their earnings.

The latest controversy arises out of a case where a two-bed property in Temple Bar was advertised for sale with a footnote that it was yielding almost €80,000 per year for one owner.

Earlier this week An Bord Pleanála upheld a Dublin City Council decision that the property had undergone a material change of use due to the level of Airbnb activity and was therefore not exempt from planning regulations.

"Effectively as far as I can see this was a property that was being used like a B&B whereby there was regular turnover every couple of days," Mr Coveney said. "We need to provide planning guidelines for that type of operation.

"When does a rental property become a commercial property? When does a residential property become a commercial property? We'll work on that ... and we'll issue a letter to chief executives, in particular in local authorities in urban areas."

Mr Coveney said that local authorities should be in a position to make consistent decisions on the issue and that homeowners should "know where they stand".

This week, the residents at Spencer Dock apartment complex were issued with a blanket ban of short-term rents.

Meanwhile, Mr Coveney has committed to bringing forward an action plan aimed at reducing the pressure on the rental sector by the end of the year.

"It will contain a range of actions focused on the four key areas of security, supply, standards and services."

He said greater certainty of tenure will be delivered for landlords and tenants.

Irish Independent

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