IGNORANCE: Are councils failing to enforce ‘Airbnb’ laws?

By Dave Stapleton

Only 3% of thousands of eligible properties have applied for planning permission or registered under new short-term letting regulations.

Under the new rules, which came into effect in July 2019, any property being sublet in a rent pressure zone must acquire planning permission from the local authority. Homes where the owner resides must notify the local authority and can’t rent for more than 90 days.

The rules apply to 18 local authorities which have been designated as rent pressure zonesby the Residential Tenancies Board.

However, figures obtained by Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien, reveal that only 16 planning permission applications have been received by local authorities across the country.

In addition, just 401 notices have been filed for principal primary residences, the majority of which were received by Dublin City Council.

This offers a stark contrast to the 14,300 properties listed within the applicable local authorities, according to the latest figures from Inside Airbnb – an independent organisation which scrapes statistics from Airbnb’s website.

Just three staff have been allocated to enforce the new rules, despite each local authority requesting additional staff and resources. All three are assigned to Dublin City Council, who said they have a further 10 staff approved for the end of November.

Overall, 162 complaints about breach of regulations have been received, while 60 enforcement warnings have been handed out.

TD Darragh O’Brien believes the findings show that the rules are not being properly enforced and ignored by property owners. He said: “It’s clear that the laws in place since the summer are not being taken seriously by the Government. They have not provided any support to local authorities to implement the new rules.

“Councils are writing begging letters to the Department looking for the resources to implement the rules and have been completely ignored to date.”

O’Brien has called on Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to provide councils with the full resources required to enforce the regulations, and for a review of the new laws next year.

‘These rules are important in ensuring we keep units in the rental market, open up opportunities for first time buyers and protect communities from being transformed into holiday home centres,” he added.

“There won’t be much change”

TheCity.ie spoke to an individual, who wished to remain anonymous, that manages numerous sublet properties through Airbnb. They said the regulations will not make much of difference as many will ignore them or find ways around it.

“Just wait and see what happens. If council enforcement is anything like that in London, there won’t be much change,” they said.

Owners cannot rent property in London for more than 90 days in a given year on a short-term let and must seek planning permission for a change of use from the local council.

“People over there just list the properties across different booking sites to meet the 90-day cap. Some even just delete the property and relist it under a new account,” the property manager added.

When the new laws were implemented during the summer, a spokesperson for the Department of Housing said: “Those found not to be in compliance with these changes will risk criminal conviction under the forthcoming legislation.”

Speaking at the Oireachtas housing committee earlier this year, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said that responsibility of introducing these rules will fall to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Leave a Reply