Ireland plans to buy several currently empty Airbnb properties

United Kingdom: in an interview with an Irish publication The Journal.IeIreland’s new Housing Minister, Darragh O’Brien, has confirmed his interest in buying empty Airbnbs.

O’Brien suggested the measure as part of the government’s July stimulus package, in a bid to help boost Ireland’s housing stock.

Ireland has been trying to limit the presence of Airbnbs in major cities since last year. Former housing minister Eoghan Murphy introduced measures limiting the maximum number of nights in a stay and the number of days a year a property can be rented out.

Commenting on the old policies, O’Brien said: “The problem is that they were introduced quite quickly, they were a bit loose and ready… The biggest problem, when the regulations were put in place, was the resources to implement them and to monitor that these regulations have not been put in place.

Cities like Dublin have turned to Airbnbs to help solve housing crises, with around 5,000 full homes in the city listed on the platform. He chose to deny a variety of permits for short-term rentals earlier this year, foreshadowing a policy change to prevent operators from renting downtown properties full-time.

The coronavirus has accelerated many of these developments as many short-term rentals in the city have returned to the traditional rental market due to travel restrictions. O’Brien hopes to use some of these empty rentals to help solve some of the various housing problems in the country.

O’Brien added, “It’s something I honestly want to do. If there are opportunities for the state to buy, at reasonable prices, so that we can house people and then they can rent them securely to the state, then we should.

The minister also suggested he would consider strengthening tenants’ rights, as well as purchase assistance programs for first-time homeowners. The schematic is due out this week.

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