Airbnb says new government rules banning rogue listings “won’t work”

The online accommodation platform says that it doesn’t know how to comply with legal changes that make it responsible for listings that are missing the correct planning permission.

Airbnb says without consultation the new rules won't work

Adrian Weckler

Airbnb says that the government’s proposed new fines for online platforms showing ads for illegal short-term lets “won’t work”.

The company’s head of public policy in Ireland, Derek Nolan, was speaking in response to amended legislation that will hold online platforms liable for short term accommodation ads from property owners that do not have the correct planning permission to use their property as a short-term let. The government wants the new law to take effect from September.

The new rules are being brought in to help release more long term accommodation in ‘rent pressure zones’, according to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien.

Mr Nolan told the Irish Independent that the government’s lack of consultation with Airbnb and other online accommodation platforms about the new rules means that they don’t currently know how to comply.

“It’s still unclear as to what the obligations are and what is required,” he said. “We have no way of knowing whether a property is your principal private residence or not. And we don't see the point of doing stopgap measures that won't solve the problem, instead of doing what the government committed to in the first place, which was to introduce a national online registration system.”

Last month, Airbnb said that it expected Ireland to follow other European countries in introducing a state-backed registry for accommodation hosts that would allow online platforms to tell which hosts had the correct planning permissions in place.

Mr Nolan said that the company remains open to consultation on the government’s proposed legislative changes “even at this late state”.

“We have a reasonable expectation that we will be consulted and that the industry will be consulted,” he said. “That includes hosts and communities right around Ireland that depend on guests and tourism.”

Figures this week from show 342 properties for rent in Dublin, while Airbnb has 376 ‘whole home’ properties available for a month in the same geographical area.

However, Airbnb has disputed whether properties available on its website are a direct substitute for long-term rental accommodation, claiming that many are temporarily vacant from owners being away for short periods of time.

In 2019, Ireland adopted rental regulations designed to crack down on property owners who cash in on more profitable, less regulated, Airbnb listings.

The rules require a homeowner to get planning permission to use their dwelling as a commercial rental utility. They also place a limit of 90 days per year for lettings, and no more than 14 days at any one time.

But with Ireland in the grip of a worsening housing crisis, a number of commentators and politicians say that the measures have failed to have an impact.

Earlier this year, Sinn Fein introduced a private members bill that sought to penalise platforms and websites advertising properties that are not in line with Irish planning regulations.

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