Airbnb and our housing crisis

airbnb

This week An Bord Pleanála ruled that a particular residential unit in Temple Bar being rented out as an airbnb needed a change of planning use from residential to commercial. I very much welcome this ruling and seek now that regulations governing planning and tax aspects of airbnbs be issued by the Department of the Environment and Local Government.

There are over 3,000 Dublin properties available on Airbnb. Many of these are private individuals renting out a room in their homes to tourists visiting our city or renting out there home while away on holiday themselves. Others, however are operating as commercial businesses renting out entire apartments or houses on short-term lets. Such commercial operations cause difficulties for those living in the immediate area – occupants coming and going and perhaps not being vigilant or security conscious particularly those renting in an apartment complex.

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These commercial operations have also had a negative impact on housing supply. There are over 750 families currently living in hotels while several hundred ‘entire homes’ are available on Airbnb for letting and potentially several hundred property owners using their  ‘home’ for commercial purposes with no adequate regulation in a time of unprecedented housing demand.

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No doubt this planning decision will take time to filter down and have a real impact on housing supply. It will also have an impact on hotel and other tourist accommodation in the city. Hotel occupancy and room rates are currently very high and there are very few planning applications for housing in train. This is in a context where the hospitality sector enjoys a special low 9% rate of VAT yet continues to refuse to engage with the wage setting mechanisms such as the JLC system to improve wages & conditions for hospitality workers – a debate for another day!

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For today, and as a member of Dublin City Council Housing Strategic Policy Committee where my key focus is the increase of housing supply in Dublin, this decision is a small win for supply. I commend Dublin City Council for taking the case and encourage others to ‘report’ unauthorised commercial use of residential properties to the Planning Enforcement Section of DCC.

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