Sunday 21 July 2019

Clampdown on Airbnb rentals 'will be difficult'

Warning: Threshold chairperson Dr Aideen Hayden. Picture: Marc O'Sullivan
Warning: Threshold chairperson Dr Aideen Hayden. Picture: Marc O'Sullivan
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

The Government needs to adopt a "carrot and stick" approach if its radical plans to clampdown on professional Airbnb-style rentals are to work.

Dr Aideen Hayden, chairperson of the national housing charity Threshold, told the Irish Independent that she believes it will be "difficult" for the Government to regulate Airbnb rentals, because there are many other online platforms that homeowners can advertise their properties on.

"How are you going to monitor all platforms?" she said, pointing out there are more than 3,000 Airbnb properties to rent in Ireland.

New rules unveiled this week which will be implemented in June will target professional Airbnb landlords, and will require an application for commercial planning permission to use a property as a short-term let.

Landlords who let out their properties on Airbnb also face being hit with extra water, insurance and commercial rates bills from the summer.

Dr Hayden said that she welcomed the move, but as well as adopting a stick approach, "homeowners need to be incentivised" to put their homes back into the longer-term rental sector.

"For example the Government has incentivised large institutional landlords, but small-scale landlords face a greater tax burden and this needs to be examined, because it is in the main small-scale landlords who house low-income families."

She said the reason that many landlords are choosing to let their properties on Airbnb was because the returns exceed profits they would make through the rental market.

"The intent with the new Airbnb measures is to increase supply," she said. "But the danger is that more landlords will sell rather than go into the long-term letting sector, and houses here are sold from vacant possession, so that will add to the problem."

She said that Threshold had already seen "reluctant landlords" who had bought at the height of the boom now selling their properties as they had moved out of negative equity.

Dr Hayden gave the opening address at a conference as part of national housing charity Threshold's 40-year anniversary in the Wood Quay Venue in Dublin yesterday.

"Ireland faces severe challenges in dealing with a homelessness crisis caused by a failed rented sector. Moreover, we now have a whole new 'generation rent' whose housing future is very uncertain unless significant steps are taken to secure more social housing and access to affordable rental and purchase schemes. Without significant changes, many Irish people will live in the rented sector for the rest of their lives, a sector that is not fit for purpose."

She added that much of what is happening in Ireland is replicated elsewhere, with falling rates of home-ownership and rising rates of renting a feature of many developed European countries.

The charity hosted a one-day conference looking at housing policy in Ireland and across Europe, entitled: "Re-imagining Ireland's Future - Housing, Wealth and Inequality."

Irish Independent

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