Proposed changes to short-term lettings could have a devastating impact on tourism accommodation here, says Airbnb.
Documents released under a Freedom of Information request show senior officials from the short-term rental platform wrote to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to warn about the potential ramifications of the legislation, which is due to become law from July 1.
The rules will impose caps on the letting out of houses in a bid to ease the housing shortage. Houseowners who let a second property on a short-term basis will no longer be allowed to do so without planning permission, while an annual cap of 90 days will apply for the renting out of a home.
Properties that are rented out will only be available for 14 days or less at a time.
Short-term lets of second properties will not be permitted in rent-pressure zones, which includes Cork and Dublin. Where a home or apartment is a person’s principal private residence, they will be able to rent out rooms on a short-term basis. This includes B&Bs.
Airbnb has argued the new regulations will be difficult to enforce, while the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has described the rules as like “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.
In an email to Ken Spratt, assistant secretary general at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Airbnb warned that the introduction of the rules could have a significant impact on the availability of tourism accommodation.
The email, sent by Natasha Mytton-Mills, head of experiences policy at Airbnb, said: “There is a potential loss of 82,700 tourism nights in Dublin and 135,000 across Ireland if the Oireachtas Committee recommendation of 90 nights for entire home listings is pursued.
“As we shared last year and are currently updating, analysis of Dublin rental income vs potential Airbnb income shows that you need to host for over 160-180 days in a year for it to be more lucrative to put your property as a short-term rental than long term rental.”
Ms Mytton-Mills said that from 2016-2017, of a total of 3,838 entire home listings, just 550 were rented out for more than 160 days.
“Therefore the possible commercial operator-owned listings amount to 550, of which many of these will also be traditional and permitted B&Bs and serviced apartments,” she said. “If overly heavy regulation is pursued to tackle the 550, that prevents the remaining 3,288 to offer great, local accommodation that the tourism industry needs.”
The company also held briefings with local authorities on the impact of Airbnb in towns and cities. A document issued to officials at Cork City Council claimed Airbnb was heavily utilised during events like the Cork Jazz Festival and last year’s Ed Sheeran concerts.
The 2017 Cork Jazz Festival saw a 466% rise in the number of guests from 2016, with hosts earning €44,000. The Ed Sheeran concerts saw 470 bookings in Cork, with visitors staying for an average of two nights. Hosts earned €124,000 or an average of €270 per booking.