Belfast Airbnbs call for review on impact on residents

Councilors are calling for Airbnbs regulation in Belfast and a cap in certain areas, as they say short-term house rentals are having a negative impact on many of the city’s residents and leading to an increase in anti-social behavior.

irbnbs allows people to rent their homes for short stays and has become popular across the UK and beyond in recent years.

SDLP Councilor Gary McKeown has tabled a motion on the issue, seconded by Paul McCusker, which will be debated at the November Belfast City Council (BCC) meeting.

The motion “notes with concern the unregulated proliferation of Airbnbs and similar types of short-term rentals in Belfast and the impact this has on communities”.

“In particular, the council recognizes the impact on residents through antisocial behavior occurring in many such properties, the impact on the makeup and character of communities as properties previously used as residential homes are converted to short-term rentals of this type, and the impact on the affordability of properties and the availability of long-term rentals in many areas.

The motion urges council to write to the Stormont executive “to call for an urgent interdepartmental review of this matter and the creation of a strong and effective regulatory and licensing system for properties intended for use as short-term rentals. of this type, including the ability to create areas of special interest where the number of properties authorized for such use can be capped to avoid an imbalance in the diversity, affordability and availability of housing ”.

Airbnb, which was founded in the United States in 2008, allows households to advertise their homes for rent on its website and, in turn, takes a share of all bookings made.

The Belfast Telegraph checked the Airbnb website for availability of reservations for an overnight stay next weekend. Over 40 Airbnbs were available across town, ranging from £ 50 to over £ 500 per stay.

Because Airbnbs can drop off and on site frequently – owners can list their home for rent whenever they want, such as when they are on vacation – there is no way to tell exactly how many Airbnbs there are. in Belfast, how many there are. available any date.

According to MTB’s lawyers, Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) rules mean that all tourist accommodation here must be certified by the NITB to ensure that visitors can expect a minimum standard for everything. type of accommodation and that they can be sure that the premises meet the sanitary requirements. and security criteria.

It is illegal for a person in Northern Ireland to rent their own rooms or apartments for short term rentals – those of less than 30 days – unless they are certified by the NITB.

In a statement, Airbnb said Northern Ireland already has rules for tourist accommodation and the company recently put forward proposals for a “strengthened system to protect housing and promote sustainable growth in home sharing that are put forward by the British government “.

“We take community concerns seriously and only a tiny fraction of local housing is rented out on our platform. Airbnb is designed to help local families pay for their accommodation and the vast majority of hosts share space in their own homes with almost half of UK hosts saying the extra income is an economic lifeline, ”Airbnb said.

Airbnbs and other short stays in Belfast have already made headlines, such as in April 2019 when a manager of a luxury riverside apartment in the east of the city spoke out after that his property was ransacked by young people during a night party. , causing damage estimated at £ 40,000.

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