Landlords will be hit with crackdown to limit Airbnb rentals
PROPERTY owners in cities will face restrictions around the number of days they can rent out their homes in a clampdown on short-term lettings.
An expert group tasked with regulating the so-called Airbnb sector is expected to recommend a licensing system, with different rules for different parts of the country.
Sources said while there was no issue with holiday lettings in rural areas or towns with no housing shortage, the Government was keen to ensure the bulk of rental properties were leased to families and not tourists in under-pressure areas.
This would likely lead to restrictions on the number of days a property could be rented in the cities of Dublin, Cork and Galway, or other areas where rents were high due to a lack of supply.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is expected to receive the expert group’s report imminently but it is not yet clear when the rules will be introduced.
Airbnb insists 88pc of available properties are single rooms
Local authorities may be allowed make regulations around short-term lettings, but primary legislation may be needed.
There is also uncertainty as to whether the Department of Housing would sponsor legislation as it was a housing matter, or whether it would fall to Shane Ross’s Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, as it was a tourism issue.
“There may be a decision taken to bring it to cabinet if it’s not clear if it’s housing or tourism which will take it,” a source said.
“The report would need to go out for public consultation, to hear what the home sharing platforms and others have to say. It will need to be assigned to a department.
“We would have to see where it fits in terms of priority.”
Many cities – including Madrid, Amsterdam, London and New York – have clamped down on short-term lettings due to concerns that they are removing homes from the housing stock.
Rents here are above boomtime levels, with concerns that the attraction of lucrative profits is resulting in landlords choosing short-term lets over longer tenures.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office suggest that both foreign and domestic tourists are increasingly renting self-catering accommodation while holidaying here.
In 2013, a total of 10,649 nights were spent in self-catering accommodation by Irish and overseas tourists. This rose to 14,777 last year, an increase of almost 39pc.
Last year, it emerged that some landlords were earning more than €150,000 a year from renting single properties.
In other countries, owners are restricted from renting their homes for between 30 and 90 days. The Dáil Housing committee recommended a 90- day limit, but this is likely to be lower in areas of high demand.
“Because you have a severe housing shortage in Dublin and Cork, for example, it wouldn’t be a one-size fits all approach,” a source said.
Airbnb insists 88pc of properties listed were a room in a home and not the full property. But the Irish Hotels Federation said while it was important to develop a vibrant tourism industry, a level playing pitch was required.
“The Irish hotel sector is heavily regulated,” chief executive Tim Fenn said. “We’ve always had people sharing rooms, but now they’re taking full houses and apartments and that’s a business. They should be subject to the same rules and regulations.”
The Residential Landlords Association said it did not believe Airbnb was having a significant impact with 1,500 properties as there were 400,000 units in the wider rental sector.