Airbnb rentals will be targeted by government crackdown

The government is planning a new crackdown on short-term Airbnb rentals as well as vacant homes and sites.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien appeared on Wednesday evening before parliamentary meetings of Fine Gael, the Green Party and his own party, Fianna Fáil, to discuss the government’s attempts to deal with the housing crisis.

At the Fine Gael meeting, Mr O’Brien said his department was close to concluding work on how to further regulate short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb.

According to the plans, he said, a property would not be allowed to advertise on the platform without the required building permit.

Currently, individuals who rent a home for more than 90 days or owners who rent a second property to tourists or others on a short-term basis must apply for either a new or retention building permit. There have been criticisms, however, that it is not sufficiently regulated and homes are still being advertised without permission.

Urban and rural damage

Senator Tim Lombard said Airbnb properties are “permeating” the rental market and hurting rural and urban Ireland by ensuring that affordable rental properties are not available.

Mr O’Brien also told the Fine Gael meeting that the vacant site tax was not effective and needed to be reconsidered. Meanwhile, tánaist Leo Varadkar told his party in a letter that a tax on vacant homes may need to be introduced.

The Fine Gael chief said he also believed the Coalition should reconsider the role of licensed housing organizations and local authorities who would continue to be allowed to buy housing developments in bulk.

He said the government could “reconsider a tax on vacant homes and look at long-term rental agreements where the asset does not revert to the state or the occupier at the end of the lease.”

Construction financing

Mr Varadkar said the state needs around 35,000 new homes each year for the next 10 years.

“It will cost around 120 billion euros to finance the construction of these 350,000 new homes. It’s more than the bank bailout and the pandemic combined. There is no way for the state or the public to take on this level of debt at any interest rate, so we need private developers and private finance as well as public investment. “

He also defended the increase in the new 10 percent stamp duty on purchases of more than 10 properties which was passed by the Dáil, saying the government had the option of increasing the amount if it was not not efficient.

Fianna Fáil chief executive Jim O’Callaghan told a private meeting of his party that real estate investment trusts (Reits) should be banned from buying residential property, but still allowed to build units of lodging.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he wanted the offer to grow to 40,000 households per year over the next decade.

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