Wednesday 23 October 2019

Airbnb reveals 900 homes on site are long-term rentals

CEO of Irish arm warns regulating the sector will not solve the housing crisis

Aisling Hassell, Head of Airbnb in Ireland
Aisling Hassell, Head of Airbnb in Ireland

Michael Cogley, Business Correspondent

Accommodation rental giant Airbnb has identified almost 900 Dublin-based properties that have been let on the platform on a long-term basis.

Aisling Hassell, the CEO of the company's Irish arm and head of global customer experience, has also defended its role in the housing crisis and insisted its impact has been blown out of proportion.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Hassell said the business has had to deal with "a lot of anecdotes" that were not backed up by data. "We took a look at all the listings we have and it's about 1pc of the housing stock in Ireland," she said. "Then we took a look at the homes that could potentially fall into that category of where they could be on the long-term rental because they were entire homes and they were rented for more than 180 days. It actually drops to 0.16pc."

The company said that this amounted to 899 properties in Dublin that had been let out on the website for more than 161 days.

The 899 represents around 12pc of the listings currently advertised in Dublin.

Airbnb will likely be one of a number of short-term letting companies set to face regulation by the Government. Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has suggested a similar regime to the one that operates in Toronto may be put in place in Ireland.

The changes would force hosts to register their property with local authorities before they begin letting it out on a short-term basis. They would also involve an outright ban on "income properties" as well as a 180-night cap on primary residences.

Hassell said the company has been "successful" with a cap on nights in other countries. "If that's a problem we want to prevent from happening in the future then a night cap is the way to go," she said.

"As long as it's applied across the sector. We lean in more than others, if you like, and what we've found in other cities is that when these rules come in it has to be across all platforms because otherwise you just get migration onto different platforms."

The former Vodafone customer experience executive warned that any legislation proposed by the Government must regulate all 16 short-term letting websites such as Booking.com.

Hassell also said Airbnb and the country's hotels can "happily co-exist". She said that the site hosted around 1.2 million people in Ireland last year and that there was a shortage of hotel spaces in Dublin.

Sunday Indo Business

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