Airbnb targeted to boost number of homes available to renters

The housing minister is targeting Airbnb owners regularly letting out properties in a bid to boost the number of homes available to renters.

Rent caps will be signed into law this week after passing through the Seanad yesterday.

However, there is a fear that landlords will switch to Airbnb operations, to dodge the rent controls and to maximise income.

Simon Coveney said he had written to local authorities to ensure Airbnb providers were not operating like B&Bs or hotel owners. His comments in the Seanad come as a cross-departmental group examining homestays here begins its work. It will report by June.

Mr Coveney took the unprecedented step of warning Airbnb yesterday that the company “should not be replacing permanent tenancies”.

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney

“A change in the planning treatment is a good way of dealing with that, which is what we have been supporting,” he told the Seanad.

In October, Bord Pleanála upheld a ruling that a property owner in Temple Bar needed to get planning permission to continue renting it out for short-term lets. Planning chiefs cited the extent and frequency of visitors to the property, its commercial nature, and security concerns and disturbance to other renters.

Rent caps of 4% a year will be introduced in Dublin and Cork City when signed into law by the President this week. Other areas and cities will then be assessed as ‘rent-pressure zones’ by next month. However, there are fears landlords facing the rent caps will now instead go down the Airbnb route, where owners can potentially increase their incomes.

Landlords say the market will correct itself, with hoards switching to Airbnb. Furthermore, short-term renters use facilities less, leaving little wear and tear.

However, numbers switching over to Airbnb will further reduce the rental supply, Labour senator Kevin Humphreys warned: “No one objects to someone using Airbnb for occasional short-term rental use. Where it is being run as a business though, the planning system must step in to ensure that the correct permissions are in place.”

Mr Coveney told the Seanad that efforts were under way to clampdown on homestay providers operating like hotels. “We have written to local authorities to support that distinction in planning enforcement, which is a good way of dealing with this, without having to go through legislative change,” he said.

Owners regularly selling short-term stays must face the same procedures that B&Bs go through, including standards, inspections and taxation, he said.

Meanwhile, a High Court judge has ordered activists and homeless people occupying Apollo House, a vacant office building in Dublin city, to leave the premises by January 11.

Glen Hansard, Carrie Hennessy, Aisling Hedderman and Brendan Ogle speak to the media. Picture: Collins Courts
Glen Hansard, Carrie Hennessy, Aisling Hedderman and Brendan Ogle speak to the media. Picture: Collins Courts

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted an injunction sought by Tom O’Brien and Simon Coyle of Mazars — who were appointed joint receivers over the building by a Nama-related company — to vacate the property and restrain the trespass at Apollo House.

Home Sweet Home, a group made up of trade unionists and the Irish Housing Network, took charge of the building last Friday to house homeless people. There are 40 people living in the makeshift hostel.

The campaign is backed by musicians and artists such as film director Jim Sheridan, musician Glen Hansard, and actress Saoirse Ronan.

The group has been flooded with donations while tradespeople have reinstated heating, plumbing and electricity in the building.

Mr Coveney was asked if he believed Apollo House was unnecessary given that 160 to 210 extra beds would be available in the capital by this weekend.

He said he would work with the campaigners in Apollo House to move occupants into more “medium-term and permanent solutions”.

This Christmas about 7,000 people, including children, will be living in emergency accommodation.

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Boosting supply the answer to bring down high rents, says VaradkarBoosting supply the answer to bring down high rents, says Varadkar

Airbnb laws are being ignored, says TDAirbnb laws are being ignored, says TD

Parents buy homes for students as rents soarParents buy homes for students as rents soar


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