Airbnb boom as owners flout new rental zone rules
Landlords are ignoring regulations aimed at clamping down on Airbnb and other short-term lettings in areas worst hit by the housing crisis.
The number of entire homes advertised for short stays on Airbnb rose by more than 1,000 in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford over the past year to almost 6,900.
That is despite moves by the Government to get properties used for the lucrative holiday market back in use as long-term homes.
It comes against a backdrop of more than 10,500 people being homeless, including 1,733 families.
Under the new rules, which came into effect in rent pressure zones last July, short-term letting is allowed for up to 14 days at a time to a total of 90 days in a given year.
But landlords are supposed to register such properties with their local authority and just 370 such applications have been received to date.
Short-term letting for longer than a total of 90 days requires planning permission, but just 21 applications have been received. None has been granted, although three are under appeal to An Bord Pleanala.
Local authorities warn they are gearing up for a crackdown after receiving funding to recruit dedicated staff and set up specialist enforcement units.
Dublin City Council has already begun 220 investigations into suspect lettings. It said it had issued 15 enforcement notices so far and initiated its first prosecution.
The council expects those numbers to rise substantially over the next few months.
"The council is monitoring notifications received," it said in a statement.
"We have commenced proactive investigations of properties and are profiling and targeting properties on short-term lettings platform websites.
"It is anticipated that up to 1,000 properties will be investigated next year."
Galway City Council said it had received 20 complaints from the public and issued eight warning letters, while Dun Laoghaire Rathdown sent three warning letters which resulted in compliance by the targeted property owners.
No complaints have been received in Limerick yet and no enforcement cases opened.
Kildare, where all the main towns are rent pressure zones, has served one enforcement notice.
The Department of Housing said it was too early to judge the effect of the new regulations.
"Local authorities are currently focusing on raising public awareness and advising homeowners of their obligations under the regulations," it said.
"Once the advisory phase is completed, local authorities will focus on following up on lack of engagement and enforcement."
The department said progress reports would be required after six months.
"Given the provision of dedicated funding to planning authorities, we expect to see positive results from the enforcement in all affected local authority areas," it added.