Wednesday 29 January 2020

Is this the end of Airbnb in Dublin? Your top 5 questions answered

What do these strict new rules really mean?

Here's the top five questions you might be asking Photo: Getty
Here's the top five questions you might be asking Photo: Getty
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Local authorities around the country are to be issued with new rules that could affect the status of thousands of Airbnb hosts. Here's the top five questions you might be asking about the new rules.

1. Why is a ‘clampdown’ on Airbnb being proposed?

The rules around Airbnb in terms of tax liability and planning have always been a bit sketchy. When it first came to Ireland many people saw it as an easy way to make a few euro by renting out a room or even their home for a few days at a time. Last year Revenue said they would be seeking to pursue tax arrears and interest from people who didn’t declare Airbnb income. Now the Department of Housing wants to clarify the planning situation.

2. Does this mean that I’ll have to get planning permission to use Airbnb?

Probably not. Sources in the Department of Housing have told that they do not intend to stop “normal” use of Airbnb. The problem is that they have to define what is normal. The current focus on the online service is a result of rulings by Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanala that an apartment in Temple Bar should have applied for planning permission to operate as a commercial premises because the owners were collecting up to €80,000 a year in income through Airbnb. The website released figures last year that shows the typical Airbnb host earns €2,600 a year by sharing their space for 40 nights a year.

3. Has this issue arisen in other countries?

The Airbnb phenomenon has grown so quickly that it’s not surprising some policy issues have arisen. The company says they worked with authorities in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Milan and Lisbon to provide clear rules and look forward to doing the same in Ireland.

4. So what changes does the Department of Housing intend to make?

This is still under discussion. Officials will look at the split of time between a property being used as a home and for short-term letting. "The department intends to have specific objective measures/thresholds to guide local authority decisions," a source said. In the meantime Housing Minister Simon Coveney is going to write to the chief executives of every local authority in the country alerting them to the Temple Bar judgement which he agrees with.

“Effectively as far as I can see this was a property that was being used like a B&B whereby there was regular turnover every couple of days," Mr Coveney said. "We need to provide planning guidelines for that type of operation.

5. Is Airbnb not just adding to the difficulties already in the housing sector?

There is an argument that a small number of rooms that could be rented out to long-term tenants are actually being held back for short-term letting on Airbnb. However, the Government has a view that if properly regulated Airbnb serves a purpose, particularly in providing accommodation for tourists.

“I think Airbnb has a role to play in the broader property market but there needs to be clarity around what the role is and I don’t think at the moment there is,” says Mr Coveney.

“I think if you own a property and you’re living there and you rent a room or rent it out for a few weeks or a few months of the year through Airbnb, it’s quite successful .”

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