Latest: Airbnb calls for 'fair regulation' of short-term rental market

Latest: Airbnb calls for 'fair regulation' of short-term rental market

Update 6.50pm: Airbnb has described as tragic claims that Irish families are being put out of their homes so landlords can make more money on short-term lettings.

Fine Gael's Fergus O'Dowd said there were "loads" of cases in central Dublin where the popular website was being used to get around rent controls brought in to ease the housing crisis.

Families and workers in the capital were forced to leave their homes when it was put on airbnb and they were told to pay the going rate - much higher than long-term rents - or get out, he said.

Mr O'Dowd said property owners in rent pressure zones, designated neighbourhoods where rent rises are capped at 4% a year, do not have to conform to the rules and "compete outside" by using websites like airbnb.

"People are being displaced who are working or who are families because their tenancy is legally up and they are told get out or pay this excessive amount," he told a parliamentary committee investigating the housing crisis.

"Because the excessive amount is going to airbnb there is no control over that."

Families and workers "just can't pay and they have to get out".

He added: "I've been told there are loads of examples in the centre of the city."

Patrick Robinson, European director of public policy for airbnb, said the problem with Ireland, unlike many other countries, was that there was no regulation of the short-term rental market.

"Those kinds of examples are incredibly disheartening and I'm sure tragic for those people involved in them," he told the Joint Committee on Housing.

"I think that clear, fair regulation of the short-term rental sector would play a very strong role in preventing that kind of outcome."

Mr Robinson said most people who rented out their properties through airbnb in Dublin were using spare space in their own home.

Typically, hosts make 5,000 euro hosting guests for 51 nights of the year.

Landlords leaving the long-term rental market for short-term lets would need to have bookings for well over 120 nights a year, or closer to 200 nights in some parts of the city, to make more money, Mr Robinson said.

Last year, 3,838 properties were rented out on airbnb on an "entire home" basis, rather than staying with the owner.

Of these, 85% of the properties were rented out less than 161 nights of the year, he added.

Just 16 were booked up for more than 320 nights.

Mr Robinson said the vast majority of airbnb hosts usually started renting out a spare room for the financial gains, but many ended up being motivated by showing off their neighbourhoods and meeting new people.

But he said airbnb would welcome regulations from the government on short-term rentals.

"We genuinely believe clear regulation is good for our host community and good for our business," he said.

"It does not currently exist in Ireland."

Update 3.35pm: Air BnB has told an Oireachtas committee it doesn’t believe it’s contributing to the housing crisis as most of its hosts in the capital are renting out rooms in their own homes.

The short-term letting company has come under criticism from campaigners who say they’re squeezing out renters.

But Air BnB says the vast majority of its hosts in the capital are letting out space in their own home.

Air BnB offices in Dublin
Air BnB offices in Dublin

Spokesman Patrick Robinson told the Oireachtas housing committee that most properties on the site wouldn’t be available for rent anyway;

"Very few of those listing will likely be available to long term housing absent AirBnB.

"The vast majority of these homes are places where Dubliners already live which means there is no simple or accurate conclusion to be drawn about the availibility or affordability of housing in Dublin from a headline number of entire homes.

Latest: Airbnb calls for 'fair regulation' of short-term rental market

Earlier: Executives from Air BnB will face questions from TDs and Senators today about the impact the business is having on the housing crisis.

Last week, the Oireachtas Housing committee heard that the growth of short term rentals in Dublin is reducing the number of homes available for long term tenants.

A principal officer at the Department of Housing, Earnán Ó’Cléirigh, said last week that there is concern over the impact on such online platforms could have on properties being withdrawn from the long-term rental sector if not adequately regulated.

The Department is concerned about the availability of online short-term housing and the effect this will have on Landlords seeking to obtain higher returns for short-term renting in the tourism sector.

At last week’s meeting, Sinn Fein TD Eoin O’Broin said he was disappointed at the lack of data the company provided to the Oireachtas Committee and said pressure needed to be placed on the company to supply relevant data to the committee.

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