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Minister must act to regulate the short term lettings sector – Ó Broin

6 December, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has said the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy must act to regulate the short term lettings sector.

The Dublin Mid-West TD today launched a policy briefing with 13 recommendations that would bring regulatory certainty to the sector for all the stakeholders involved.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The emergence online short term letting platforms such as Airbnb has highlighted the lack of legislation that exists to regulate the sector in general.  I have been raising this with the Minister for Housing for some time and this government has been slow to act on the issue.

“Sinn Féin is not against the principle of Airbnb as it was originally designed. However, there is a problem with commercial landlords or professional hosts with multiple listings using platforms like Airbnb to maximise profits and circumvent planning regulations. This in turn has an impact on the rental and housing market, especially in urban areas that often provide lower cost accommodation.

“Sinn Féin believe that a robust regulatory framework for short term letting and short term letting platforms is necessary in order to protects hosts, guests, the housing system and the public interest.

“This should consist of a definition of short term letting in primary legislation. The responsibilities of hosts of various categories of lets in terms of planning, minimum standards and tax compliance; the responsibilities of platforms in terms of registration, data collection and sharing; and the role of Government agencies in terms of enforcement and research would also be legally defined.

“For those who use platforms such as Airbnb for genuine home sharing by letting out their principal private residence for sixty days or less per year, no change of use planning permission should be required.

“However, for hosts seeking to let out their principle private residence for more than sixty days per year, planning permission should be required.

“In order to tackle the misuse of such platforms hosts or commercial landlords who are letting out dwellings other than their principle private residence, planning permission should be required irrespective of the number of days it is being made available.

“All of this would be underpinned by a statutory licensing regime administered by short term letting platforms, through which all hosts register, provide set data and are made aware of their planning, minimum standards and tax obligations. Hosts who do not use on line platforms or off line letting platforms would also be covered by the planning regulations and licensing regime.

“Strong enforcement of new regime is essential. Local Authorities in areas where short term letting exists must have dedicated staff to monitor the sector, enforce the regulations and collate data from the platforms.  The Department of Housing must conduct annual reviews of the sector and publish a report detailing activity in the sector, its impact on tourism, on the housing market, levels of compliance and enforcement.

“The working group set up by the Department of Housing to look at this issue is due to report back by the end of the year. Its recommendations must focus on strong, enforceable regulation and not self-regulation.”

Note: Please see the policy briefing attached

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