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04 Jul 2022

Housing Minister to bring in legislation targeting short-term lettings 'very shortly'

Housing Minister to bring in legislation targeting short-term lettings 'very shortly'

The Minister for Housing said he will bring in additional legislation to target short-term lettings in the coming weeks.

Darragh O’Brien said the legislation will further restrict the short-term letting of houses and apartments.

Mr O’Brien said the amended law will go further that issuing on-the-spot fines, describing the move as “significant”.

He said that while the 2019 regulations are “strong”, he does not believe it is being “adhered to”.

“Very shortly I will have additional legislation that I am bringing forward in this space,” Mr O’Brien told RTE.

“If someone is going on holidays and lets out their home for a couple of weeks or lets out their room, that shouldn’t be an issue, but the idea that we have a situation where we have multiples of short term lets versus long terms in all our major cities is not a sustainable situation. 

“I am concluding work on some quite significant amendments in that space which I will bring in before the summer recess.”

This week the Dáil will debate a Sinn Féin Bill which aims to fine estate agents and platforms like Airbnb, who advertise properties without the appropriate planning permission or exemption.

The bill would require estate agents and online platforms to only advertise properties that are compliant with the Planning and Development Act 2000. 

It would also allow for the issuing of spot fines to Airbnb and other providers.

However, Mr O’Brien said that the Government needs to do more than that.

“A fine isn’t going to do it,” he added.

“They (Sinn Féin) have not done the work for me on this but I welcome any realistic proposals that can help the situation.

“I intend to go further than that.

“What I will bring forward will be more significant than the opposition who haven’t raised this issue in a couple of years.

“What I will propose will go significantly further than that.

“We do need to do that. 

“If we look at what happened through the pandemic, short-term properties came back in the long term rental and that had a positive effect in supply.

“Fundamentally, across the board, changes in short term lets will help but we need more supply.” 

The Fianna Fáil minister said he will also bring forward a vacant property tax.

“The data from the local property tax collection is being worked through by Revenue and the Department of Finance and the whole idea of that was finding out why properties were vacant,” he added.

“I think there’s two things we want to make sure, that we support bringing vacant properties back into use and we’re actually being quite successful in certain towns and villages across the country.

“My view is it that we very clearly set out in Housing for All plan that we will bring forward vacant property tax based on the data collection from Revenue.

“That has been worked through right now.

“I haven’t seen the data yet.”

The housing minister also said it was a “serious” matter that a member of the Oireachtas from outside Dublin was forced to sleep in his car on two separate occasions after he failed to find a hotel to stay.

It was reported by the Irish Daily Mail that TDs and Senators from outside Dublin have been struggling to find accommodation during the week.

Mr O’Brien said he was not aware of the individual case.

“Obviously for TDs coming up from the West, many will stay in hotels or apartments or they’ll share, so I’m not familiar with the specifics of the case,” he added.

“Obviously, a lot of our accommodation right now has been taken up understandably by the initial response to the war in Ukraine and many hotels are contracted in the short term to take our friends from Ukraine and to look after them and to provide them shelter. 

“I haven’t had instances like this brought to me before in relation to a TD or otherwise actually seeking hotel accommodation, which is obviously to stay for a night or two.

“People would have stayed in particular hotels for a period of time for months, and then it comes into the summer months and contracts and matches and all those type of things.

“There tends to be a change then where people have to move out of existing accommodation and move into others.

“Obviously that situation is a serious one, but we have a number of serious challenges across the board in housing.”

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