Sunday 18 August 2019

'No grace period' as Airbnb hosts who flout rules from today face prison

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

New short-term letting regulations introduced today could result in those who flout the rules being fined €5,000 or jailed for six months.

Airbnb said its hosts had not had "sufficient time and information to adapt". However, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has insisted there will be no grace period for the regulations to take effect.

The rules mean properties will no longer be available for short-term letting, apart from those with planning permission.

However permission is unlikely to be granted in the majority of scenarios, particularly in areas with a lack of housing. It will not be granted in rent pressure zones.

John-Mark McCafferty, chief executive of the housing charity Threshold, said he was "concerned" the new regulations "have not filtered down to hosts".

However, he said the new rules would release badly needed housing on to the market and "have a positive impact for those families who are currently experiencing homelessness".

He added: "If properly enforced, the regulations should release much-needed rental homes back into the market.

"At a time when 1,729 families and a further 4,000 individuals are homeless, measures such as this are an essential part of the overall housing solution."

However, Airbnb questioned how effective the new rules would be in boosting the available housing stock.

"While there are genuine housing concerns in Ireland, experts agree they are not caused by home sharing but factors like house-building not keeping up with demand and population growth," said a spokesman.

"Entire homes on Airbnb in Ireland account for less than 1pc of housing and the typical listing is shared for less than four nights a month, while travel on our platform boosted the Irish economy by €506m in 2017 and many hosts say the additional income helps them to afford their home."

He added: "As the rules were only finalised recently, we remain concerned that hosts have not had sufficient time and information to adapt and that visitors to Ireland may be negatively impacted.

"We hope to work together with the Government on this important effort and are continuing our discussions."

The Government introduced the new rules in April by altering the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Those who rent short-term in rent pressure zones in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Limerick must either register with their local council as landlords or apply for change-of-use planning permission.

Only those who rent out a room or a property for 90 days or less can register.

Those letting a home for over 90 days, or landlords renting a second property to tourists or others short-term, must apply for planning permission.

The maximum penalty for not abiding by the regulations is €5,000 or six months' imprisonment - or both.

Mr McCafferty pointed out that the new regulations on short-term letting applied to only rent pressure zones.

"Renters and young families outside these areas need assistance from Government to compete with short-term lets for accommodation," he said.

Irish Independent

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