Short-term letting giant to tell Oireachtas of problems posed by Government plan
Travel platforms Airbnb and Expedia have raised major concerns about Government plans for a short-term letting register and whether it would comply with EU law.
A representative from Expedia will today tell an Oireachtas committee that the current proposal is “complex, burdensome and incompatible with existing and upcoming EU law”.
Airbnb will argue that "recent headlines and commentary” around potential planning rules have created “fear and anxiety” among hosts – who typically earn about €5,600 per year.
More than half host to afford the rising cost of living and more than a third say the extra income helps them “make ends meet”, the committee will hear.
“Regulation that makes it difficult or expensive to host will risk preventing families and communities from accessing income they cannot afford to lose.”
The Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht are meeting today to discuss the general scheme of the Registration of Short-Term Tourist Letting Bill – where many operators will need to register their accommodation and apply for planning permission.
A representative from Airbnb will tell the committee that spending linked to the short-term letting giant amounted to €65 million in Kerry, €63m in Galway and €52m in Cork last year.
But Airbnb’s statement signals its concerns that reforms will threaten the future of millions of euros in tourism spending across the country.
Under the proposed bill, all properties advertised online for short-term let will be required to have a valid registration number with Fáilte Ireland. Hosts renting out accommodation for up to 21 nights will need to log their properties on the register.
Property owners will have to register via an online portal, where they will log their details and confirm they have planning permission where needed.
Fáilte Ireland believes as many as 12,000 properties of approximately 30,000 could be returned to the traditional long-term housing market under the bill.
While both Airbnb and Expedia support the creation of an online register, the platforms have raised concerns over the proposed role and responsibility of platforms in current plans.
“Airbnb has been advocating for an EU solution for several years to provide legal clarity to platforms when it comes to the sharing of personal host data with local and national authorities,” an Airbnb representative will tell the committee.
It will urge the Government to instead focus on building an EU-level framework that can then inform national policy.
Expedia will also voice concerns over plans for “intermediary services” to assess the validity of registration numbers.
"It is crucial that platforms are not required to proactively check the legality of a registration number or to proactively delist accommodation listings on the assumption that they could be illegal,” the committee will hear.
"To do so is in contravention of the hosting defence as recognised in the E-Commerce Directive (and confirmed by the Digital Services Act) and in the CJEU case law.”
Airbnb is also set to warn politicians that planned new regulations on short-term lets could threaten the future of millions of euros in tourism spending across the country.
A representative of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) will also address concerns that the requirement for planning permission would probably shrink the capacity – especially in rural areas.
The ITIC will say this is “understandable” in cities such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway “even though it will hurt the tourism industry”, but there should be a “proportionate, fair and balanced approach” elsewhere in the country.
Housing charity Threshold will speak to the committee today to ask for greater clarity on the bill, including for home sharing. It says it is apparent the number of short-term lets are “causing disruption to the Irish long-term housing market”.