Monday 21 October 2019

Housing activists occupy Airbnb headquarters in Dublin

Protesters at Airbnb's offices in Dublin Photo: Shane Conneely Twitter
Protesters at Airbnb's offices in Dublin Photo: Shane Conneely Twitter
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Housing activists occupied the offices of Airbnb in Dublin this afternoon in protest over Ireland's housing crisis.

Open House Dublin, Ireland's biggest architecture festival, is being held at the company's flagship offices on Hanover Quay in the docklands this weekend.

Protesters from campaign group Take Back the City occupied the building for over an hour today "in protest against Airbnb's impact on the housing crisis in Ireland - and across the world".

In a statement released this afternoon, a spokesperson for the group is calling for properties in Dublin to be made available as long-term lets, not short-term.

"Our tenant support groups frequently hear from people who have been evicted on grounds of “significant renovations”, only to find their old homes subsequently rented out on AirBnb and other short-term letting platforms," the statement reads.

"As of August 2018 there were 3,165 entire properties for rent on AirBnb in Dublin, compared to 1,329 properties available for longterm rent on"

In a statement to this evening, a spokesperson for AirBnB said the company was "disappointed" that the demonstration disrupted the Open House Dublin event.

“Airbnb is an economic lifeline for countless Irish families and we are proud to have partnered with Open House Dublin for many years to celebrate our creative community. We are disappointed that a small and peaceful demonstration has disrupted the activities. We thank local hosts for their hard work in showcasing the best of Irish creativity, and apologise to any attendees affected," the spokesperson said.

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

"We took a look at all the listings we have and it's about 1pc of the housing stock in Ireland," she told the Sunday Independent.

"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."

Legislation covering the regulation of short-term rental services was due to be introduced but has been delayed by an internal government row.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Tourism Minister Shane Ross have clashed over who will take the lead on drafting the legislation due to the impact the regulations will have on the hospitality sector.

Mr Murphy recently said he plans to introduce regulations similar to those in Toronto, Canada, which allow property owners to rent their principal residence on websites such as Airbnb. However, other investment properties or second homes can only for rented for at least 28 days at a time.

More to follow...

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