Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has announced plans to change the law and regulate short-term lettings and home-sharing, such as Airbnb, for tourists and visitors.
The measures are aimed at tackling the housing shortage and deal with professional landlords who are withdrawing their properties from long-term renting in favour of short-term arrangements.
Homeowners though, will still be allowed to host people in their own homes for short periods of time.
Under the new proposals, homeowners can let their primary residence on a short-term basis for a maximum of 90 days in a year and up to 14 days at a time.
Homeowners will also be required to register with their local authority.
Where a house or apartment is a person’s principal private residence, they will be permitted to rent out a room (or rooms) within their home for short-term letting without restriction.
However, they will only be allowed to sub-let their entire house without planning permission on the short-term market for a cumulative period of 90 days or less annually.
Individuals who own a second property will no longer be allowed to arrange short-term lettings unless the property already has permission to be used for such purposes or for tourism.
Instead, landlords will have to apply for planning permission to their local authority to use the property as a short-term let.
The outcome of their applications will be based on guidance from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
In areas of high housing demand, it is unlikely that permission would be granted.
The minister is also providing additional resources to Dublin City Council to compile registers of properties and to monitor enforcement.
Those who are not in compliance will risk criminal conviction under the proposed new legislation.
It is planned that the changes will come into effect on 1 June 2019, to allow property owners to prepare for the new laws.
The proposed changes will not affect the operation of holiday homes or longer-term flexible lettings which are provided for those coming to Ireland under employment contracts.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Murphy said the measures were an “emergency response to a crisis situation” in order to get “properties back into the long-term rental market”.
The move, he said, will effect Dublin and anywhere with a rent pressure zone, and cities that are experiencing rising rents but are not rent pressure zones.
“Some of our cities, for example Limerick, are seeing very high rent inflation but they don’t qualify to be a rent pressure zone because the qualifying criteria is laid out in a particular way,” said Mr Murphy.
“We estimate from the data we’ve seen that somewhere from 1,000 to 3,000 homes in the Greater Dublin area that might come back into the market for long-term letting, which is very very important.”
In a statement, Airbnb said: “One in five Irish families use Airbnb to share their homes, boost their income and explore the world, and rules that legitimise home sharing are in everyone’s best interests.
“But home sharing didn’t cause Ireland’s historic housing concerns, and many will be disheartened to hear a false promise that these proposals are the solution. Community hospitality and holiday rentals are the backbone of many local economies, and cutting that lifeline will hit many communities hard.”
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The Secretary General of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has said that while the numbers presenting to homeless services continue to be “very challenging”, the figures for those exiting homelessness are increasing significantly.
John McCarthy was speaking before the Public Accounts Committee today.
Mr McCarthy said it was essential that supply continues to increase if they are to address both the backlog of housing demand in the system, and also new demand arising.
He said the Department’s key focus was on prevention and avoiding the use of emergency accommodation wherever possible by matching families and individuals in need with appropriate accommodation.
“A record 4,729 adults exited homelessness into an independent tenancy in 2017, with a further 2,332 adults in the first 6 months of this year”, Mr McCarthy said.
However, Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy said the figures for those exiting homelessness should not be presented as a positive, as they still represented people who experienced homelessness.