A national register for short term property rentals such as Airbnb could stop breaches of letting legislation and make long term rental accommodation more available in areas of need, according to Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard.
Senator Lombard has welcomed calls from Airbnb for a national register so it can ban non-registered property owners from using its website.
It comes as work is underway on legislation which would require Airbnb operators to register with Fáilte Ireland, and is due be operational in 2023.
Senator Lombard said: “The availability of Airbnb rentals far outstrips the supply of badly needed long-term rental accommodation throughout the country. This is a matter I have consistently raised in the Oireachtas as there must be proper enforcement of the duration of the booking and planning permissions.
“I welcome comments today from Amanda Cupples, Airbnb’s general manager for Northern Europe, that it wants the Government to set up a national register so that it can refuse non-registered hosts and landlords.
“Landlords have an obligation to register any tenancy with the Residential Tenancy Board. Anyone who wants to rent out their property for short-term lets in a rent pressure zone must gain planning permission in order to do so through their local authorities.
“However it is clear some landlords are not applying for this permission, and they should only be letting properties for up to 90 days annually and for a maximum of 14 days at a time.
“The RTB can share information with local authorities, which enforce the regulations relating to standards and rent books. However, it’s clear that some landlords may not be applying for planning permission through their local authority.
“Ms Cupples today said they are asking for Government to give them the tools in making sure that property owners are adhering to the regulations.
“Several European countries, including the Netherlands, France and Portugal, have adopted similar systems, where local authorities in the Netherlands can inform Airbnb if they think someone is breaking the rules by not having their tenancy registered or by letting properties out for longer periods than is permitted.
“If we are to tackle the housing crisis, we must ensure that accommodation is not overly diverted to the short-term letting sector at the expense of local people seeking long-term rental accommodation.
“Fáilte Ireland are developing a register for Airbnb operators which will be operational in 2023. I received confirmation in the Seanad earlier this year that the Department of Tourism is currently scoping out the legislative provisions required for the new registration system with a view to it being enacted in the current year.
“As a matter of priority, we need to know what the new regulations on owners will be, will there be new requirements on the time period for lettings, will they have to obtain new planning permission for commercial purposes, and what legal onus will that place on property owners,” Senator Lombard concluded.