Local authority staff will struggle with volume of short-term planning applications, report says

Local authority staff will struggle with volume of short-term planning applications, report says
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New research indicates that local authority staff in Dublin will struggle to deal with the influx of planning permission applications for short-term lets and says that new Government regulations are “potentially compromised”.

The Government introduced new regulations on July 1 in light of the ongoing rental and housing crisis, defining a short-term let (STL) as not exceeding 14 days and requiring that short-term letting of an entire principal private residence while the resident is away will need planning permission if the letting is for more than 90 days in a year.

Using data scraped from Airbnb’s website for Dublin by ‘Talk & Code’, a Barcelona-based company, researchers Oona Kenny, of the Dublin Housing Observatory, and Martin Grehan, of the Housing Data Management Unit at Dublin City Council (DCC), showed that that almost 2,000 entire home adverts within the local authority area were occupied for close to 90 days over the three-month summer period of 2018. The report reads:

Under the new regulations, these properties will require planning permission or be close to the 90-day threshold for requiring planning permission as a STL.

“DCC may have insufficient enforcement capacity to handle any increased volume of planning applications for STL. Further resources will be required to ensure that the regulations as introduced, can be enforced. Moreover, the regulations are potentially compromised.

"For example, they do not require STL platforms such as Airbnb to supply [local authorities] with sufficient, quality data that could identify commercial operators, or ensure that regulations are fully complied with by all actors offering lettings on their platform.”

The findings have been published on the website of the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, with the authors claiming that the effectiveness of the new regulations will depend on enforcement “which is likely to be challenging”.

It states: “Local authorities are under-resourced; DCC planning authority has only eight enforcement officers responsible for a range of planning issues. While resources of €750,000 have been requested, no funding has come from Government as yet. In addition, other recommended competencies, eg data scientists and analysts, are not forthcoming."

“Even with additional resources, the regulations may yet be unenforceable. In particular, it will be difficult to prove that the 90-day threshold has not been exceeded. The onus will be on [local authorities] to present satisfactory and adequate evidence that is likely to be legally disputed and contested thereby resulting in lengthy and costly court cases.

"Also, a maximum penalty of €5,000 or six months’ imprisonment may not be a sufficient deterrent given the potential yield available, especially to larger STL operators.”

It has been reported that only a small percentage of landlords who rent out properties on Airbnb and other home-sharing websites have registered them since July 1 under the Government’s new short-term letting rules.

The Government was criticised earlier this week by Focus Ireland for not adopting more stringent recommendations in relation to short-term letting, as advised by its own expert group. That report was published last Friday.

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