Time has come to regulate AirBnB short term lets

20 June 2018

The Seanad will tonight debate a bill introduced by Senator Kevin Humphreys to finally regulate ‘AirBnB’ type short term lets. The bill would ensure that these lets are classed as a commercial enterprise, require planning permission, and would reverse the trend of homes being used as hotels in the middle of a housing crisis.

Senator Humphreys said:

“For two years now I have been raising concerns about the massive increase in the use of short term lets in our cities where houses and apartments that could be rented long term as homes are being used as hotel rooms,

“To date the Government and Minister Murphy have failed to act to regulate this sector and have been happy to turn a blind eye to the flouting of planning regulations. We urgently need legislation and regulations to tackle this.

“More and more homes are being used for short term lets, 9 alone on my own street in the South Lotts area of Ringsend. This is removing properties from the market that could be used as homes for those struggling to put a roof over their head.

“Across Dublin in particular the trend of increasing use of short term lets is causing havoc in communities and apartment complexes. This cannot be allowed continue.

“An Bord Pleanála has ruled that commercial planning permission is needed but local authorities and the Department have not acted to enforce this.”

“My bill if passed would mean if a property is being made available for short term lets for six weeks or more in a year it would require planning permission. Anyone providing a platform for  management services or the hire of short term lets would also have to register with the Property Services Regulatory Authority.

“The maintaining of a register is essential as it will prevent homeowners from jumping from one letting platform to another, which will allow people to supersede the regulations. It will also allow planning enforcers easy access to what properties are being let. Companies that don’t will be subject to a fine of up to €50,000.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The purposes of the Short-Term Lettings Bill are set out in its long title. They are –

  • to declare the use of dwellings for short-term lettings to be use for commercial purposes;
  • to remove the exemption of property services provided for short-term lettings from the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011; and
  • to oblige persons who provide services in connection with short-term lettings of dwellings to furnish information upon request to the relevant planning authority.

Section 2 is a definition section. It states that a dwelling is used for short-term lettings if it, or a part of it, is made available for letting, for a fixed term of 6 weeks or less, as a self-contained residential unit.

This applies whether or not a tenant shares with the landlord or anyone else any portion of the dwelling.

Section 3 states that, for the purposes of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and any regulations under that Act, the use of a dwelling for short-term lettings is a use for commercial and not for residential purposes.

In other words, if a residence becomes used for short term lettings, then a change of use is involved and planning permission is required.

This is subject to a very important proviso. The rule will not apply if, in total, the dwelling is not let for more than 6 weeks in a year.

So, if there are only holiday lettings in the Summer and at Christmas or Easter, amounting in total to no more than 6 weeks per year, no change of use is involved and no need for planning permission arises.

Section 4 amends the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 by simply deleting a provision that exempts short-term lettings for tourism or leisure purposes from the application of that Act.

Removing this exemption will mean that service providers in this sector will be obliged to register with the Property Services Regulatory Authority.

The impact of removing this exemption will be felt by property service providers, not property owners.

Finally, section 5 imposes some obligations on persons who provide services in respect of short-term lettings.

These obligations will arise if the property is located in the State, whether or not the service provider is located in the State.

The service provider must furnish to a planning authority, on request in writing –

  • the address of every dwelling in the authority’s area in respect of which the person is providing, a property service, and
  • the name and address of the client to whom the service was provided.

Similarly, on the request in writing of the Revenue Commissioners, a planning authority must furnish them with any particulars, in respect of a specified person or a dwelling, that were furnished to the authority by a service provider.

It is provided that a person who contravenes the section is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a Class A fine or, on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €50,000.

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