herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Coveney must 'wake up and bring in more rules' on Airbnb room lettings

Simon Coveney (right) with fellow minister Damien English. Pic: Collins
Simon Coveney (right) with fellow minister Damien English. Pic: Collins

Housing Minister Simon Coveney will send a letter to local authorities to provide "clarity" on planning requirements for properties used as Airbnbs.

It comes after An Bord Pleanala (ABP) ruled that an apartment in Temple Bar underwent a material change of use and was not exempt from planning regulations, when it began to advertise as an Airbnb.

Problem

Airbnb is a website that allows property owners to rent their properties for short periods of time, such as while on holiday, to make extra money.

The use of a Temple Bar property as a short-term lodging, without planning permission, was challenged by local residents.

The council found in their favour, while ABP subsequently upheld the council's decision this week.

"The planning judgement of Dublin City Council, which was backed up by An Bord Pleanala yesterday, was the right judgement," Mr Coveney said.

"I think we also, as a department responsible for policy and guidelines around planning, need to provide some guidelines and clarity for chief executives across all local authorities," he said.

"We'll work on that in the coming days and we'll issue a letter to chief executives, in particular in local authorities in urban areas," he added.

Speaking about the case in Temple Bar, Mr Coveney said as far as he could see the property was being used like a B&B whereby there was regular turnover every couple of days.

"We need to provide planning guidelines for that type of operation," he said.

The minister also said that Airbnb had a role to play in the broader property market.

He highlighted the difference between someone who rented a room out occasionally and those who do it long-term.

"I think it's a different thing if it's for sale and being advertised as having an €80,000 turnover a year from Airbnb," he said.

Welcome

Temple Bar Residents chairman Frank McDonald welcomed the decision of ABP.

He said Mr Coveney must "wake up and smell the coffee" and bring in more stringent regulations for Airbnb and similar letting agencies because the sector is "entirely unregulated".

"He needs to realise this is a serious problem," he said.

Along with disruptions for residents, he said that Airbnb lettings were taking over the private residential rental market during the worst housing crisis in Irish history.

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