Airbnb should be taken down while Ireland is in level 5 restrictions because it is “running amok” by facilitating blatant breaches, including parties and binge drinking in rural areas, a senator has claimed.
Cork senator Tim Lombard called on the Government to introduce legislation aimed at restricting Airbnb from renting out properties across the country. He cited a recent example in Kinsale that saw seven people from seven households found in a property.
“The big issue we have in our part of the world is that we have blatant breaches of the level 5 restrictions happening. What is actually happening is this phenomenon of weekend house parties where houses are being rented, either in scenic parts of Ireland or rural Ireland, and they are becoming drinking parties for two nights,” the Fine Gael senator said in the Seanad.
Gardaí found seven people from all different households in a house in Kinsale recently in one of the most egregious breaches of level 5 restrictions, according to Mr Lombard.
"That’s the kind of scenario that is happening in rural Ireland, that is the kind of thing happening in society.
“There are thousands available throughout Ireland. They are not for essential workers. They are not for people who have to go to work. They are for leisure and leisure only. The restrictions that are applied to other operators aren’t being enforced by the Airbnb website, and we have a major issue in lack of enforcement.”
Regulation needs to be put in place to prevent it but that regulation is unfortunately not there at the moment, Mr Lombard said.
Cork County Council, which is supposed to be the regulator for Airbnbs inside rent pressure zones, does not have a complete list of Airbnb properties within the county because it was not furnished it by Airbnb, the senator claimed.
“This is what we are dealing with. It is a totally appalling situation that we have an unregulated market that is flying in the face of what we are all doing in level 5. We need to know exactly what the Government is proposing to do about this blatant breach of restrictions.
In response, local government and planning minister Peter Burke said there were already regulations in place that are “very stringent” and that people are now aware they could have a criminal record for breaching level 5 restrictions.
Airbnb has been contacted by thefor comment.