View of Ha’penny Bridge on bright sunny day in Dublin, Ireland.
Tighter enforcement of Airbnb and short term rentals in the Republic of Ireland is needed to protect the housing and rental market.
This, according to housing activists and opposition politicians, believes that the regulations introduced last year need to be strengthened before the difficult months and years for the economy.
Last July, the short-term rental regulations came into effect with a “one host, one home” model enforced by local planning authorities.
Eoin O’Broin, MP and housing spokesman for Sinn Féin, the main opposition party, told CNBC that the rules are solid but fall on enforcement as the planning system is a “very slow and arduous process”.
Little has changed for Airbnb hosts renting out a room in the house they live in.
However, for people renting out second homes, holiday homes and other properties that are not their primary residence, they must obtain planning permission for a change of use from their local authority. The rules were put in place to bring more properties back into the long-term market. Rising rental costs in cities like Dublin have been a tough political issue as the average rent in the capital has risen to € 1,709, compared to € 1,252 in the prior-year quarter.
However it did was a low number of short-term planning applications submitted to authorities, although the number of entries is still high as hosts avoid the lengthy application process.
“We always knew that the rules, even if they were good, would fall victim to poor enforcement if left to the local authorities. This is not a criticism of the councils, it is just the nature of the planning of enforcement.” said O’Broin.
The Irish Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government said in a statement that the program includes a commitment for the government to “strengthen regulatory and enforcement mechanisms”.
“Around 2.5 million euros (euros) have been allocated to local authorities to enforce the short-term rental regulations by the end of 2021. It is envisaged that targeted enforcement regimes will be strengthened as the dedicated resources for a national keep increasing levels,” the department said .
O’Broin advocates fine platforms and real estate agents to allow non-compliant property listings rather than tracking individual hosts. Under such rules, a platform or real estate agent would have to provide evidence to users that they have the necessary authorization to list their property.
If not, a platform would “be fined every day for promoting a non-compliant property,” suggested O’Broin.
“Airbnb has worked with hundreds of governments and organizations around the world to help hosts share their homes, abide by the rules and pay taxes. We want to be good partners in Ireland as well. We have always tried to work with Ireland to to achieve home sharing. ” Rules work, “an Airbnb spokesman said in a statement.
“Since the rules were announced we have made the rules known to hosts and have sought to work with all levels of government to increase awareness and compliance. We look forward to hearing innovative ideas for the future of shared apartments in Ireland and suggestions for one Revitalizing tourism together with our colleagues in the industry. “
John-Mark McCafferty, General Manager of Housing Charity Threshold, agrees that more needs to be done on enforcement.
He believes that while some properties that are normally listed on short-term platforms have returned to the long-term market, this has not happened in a substantial way.
“(In) Dublin there are some changes, but they are not of great importance. It is still a very challenging rental market for private renters. Rents are still high, it is not like they have collapsed or even decreased significantly . “
Housing, rent increases and homelessness have been major issues in Irish politics for some time.
In August, figures from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government showed that just over 8,700 people are in emergency shelters. This is a slight downward trend compared to the previous months, as measures against evictions and rent increases were introduced during the lockdown of the coronavirus.
As the government budget approaches in October, housing associations and activists are calling for more support to keep the numbers low as the country faces an economic downturn.
In his submission to the government before the budget, Threshold called for several measures. A € 20 million ($ 23.4 million) arrears fund is targeted to help people with financial stresses arising from the pandemic, more resources for local authorities to build houses and reintroduce them an expired moratorium on evictions and rent increases in August.