Airbnb criticises 'wholly impractical' laws on short-term lettings

The Airbnb offices in Dublin.

Airbnb has strongly criticised elements of new Government legislation on short-term lettings as "wholly impractical" and said that the rules raise a "variety of legal concerns".

New regulations, which will be in effect from July 1, aim to limit the use of homes for short-term lettings in an effort to boost the availability of rental properties.

Landlords with properties in rent pressure zones will be required to register with their local council if they are renting out rooms or the entire property for less than 90 days per year. If they are doing so for more than 90 days, they will be required to apply for planning permission to do so.

In March, Airbnb lobbied members of the Joint Oireachtas Housing Committee, criticising elements of the scheme as lacking nuance. It said that the blanket, "one-size fits all" regulations are not suitable in all parts of the country and that "context-specific" rules are needed.

In the letter, Airbnb told members that it has "very serious concerns" that platforms will be required to police hosts to ensure that they are abiding by the regulations, describing this as "wholly unworkable in practice, disproportionate and entirely unreasonable... and could be in contravention of EU laws."

They also said that it is not possible to monitor hosts who may use other, non-Irish based sites, such as Booking.com or Expedia: "Airbnb would like to engage constructively with the Department and other platforms to ensure workable and effective regulations are introduced.

We have a track record in cities across the world of engaging with governments to develop solutions that are easily understood and capable of effective enforcement. At present, these crucial ingredients are missing from the proposed regulations.

Airbnb also made a series of proposed amendments, such as increasing the caps to 120 days per year.

Mick Barry, Cork North-Central TD and member of the Joint Oireachtas Housing Committee, said the rules represent a "step forward" as it introduces regulation to "a previously unregulated market".

"The legislation has the potential to boost long term letting at the expense of short term profiteering," he said.

Mr Barry said it is essential that local authorities are given the appropriate resources to enforce the new regulations: "The legislation has the potential to be toothless unless local authorities can ensure that it is fully enforced."

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