October 1, 2022

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The case for new controls on short-term lettings across the State have been strengthened by the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, a Government report has said.

New rules signed into law in July will mean that from later this year landlords and online portals such as AirBnB face fines of up to €5,000 each time they advertise short-term lets in rent pressure zones that do not have the proper permission.

It is expected that upwards of 48,000 Ukrainian refugees will have arrived in Ireland by the end of the month. The Government has struggled to find accommodation for all of them. Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has also said the Government’s attempts to house Ukrainians would be “in addition” to the State’s current housing plan.

However, a regulatory impact analysis from the his department on the new rules said the arrival of Ukrainians into Ireland made the case for the new rules for short-term lets more compelling. The analysis said the new arrangements were being introduced in the context of an acute accommodation shortage situation in the private rental sector, particularly in the areas of highest housing demand.

“These pressures have been further exacerbated by the recent, and likely future, arrival of large numbers of people fleeing Ukraine into the State who are in need of medium to long-term accommodation,” the report added.

Under the current rules introduced in 2019 anyone who does not have a planning exemption to let out a property is subject to a fine from their local council.

The impact analysis paper said that across the four Dublin local authorities, only 22 applications for change of use planning permission in respect of short-term lets were received in the period 2019 to 2022. Of these, six were granted. It said councils found it hard to identify the owners of relevant properties to a “sufficient legal standard” to be able to bring a case against them.

This signified the “virtual complete ignoring of the pre-existing statutory requirements” by short-term letting property owners since the 2019 legislation was introduced, the analysis said.

The impact analysis also said many properties that were in the short-term letting sector were “temporarily diverted” to long-term accommodation during the pandemic. These properties returned to the short-term letting market as “normal tourism” resumed “thereby significantly diminishing” the availability of private long-term rental accommodation, the report said.

The plans to introduce new short-term rental regulations have also been pushed back to November 3rd from September 1st, after the Government had to submit the proposed regulations for EU approval. A spokesman for the department said the legislation had been notified to the EU Commission under the requirements of an EU directive that means domestic legislation must have regard to potential implications for “internal market and information society services”.

He said the commission had advised that the standstill period applied until November 3rd, meaning that is the earliest date that the new rules can come into force.

The new rules are an interim measure, with plans to develop new regulatory controls requiring short-term and holiday lets to register with Fáilte Ireland due to come into effect next year.

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