It’s time to legislate to tackle Airbnb’s problems

TACKLING THE PROBLEMOther popular tourist destinations like Barcelona want to permanently ban landlords from renting private rooms for short stays.Photo: istock

De facto
Liamy MacNally

Several people have contacted me about the most recent article in this column highlighting concern about Airbnb in Westport. It appears the issue is of concern further afield, including in Louisburgh, Newport and Achill.
While sharing homes on Airbnb is fine, it’s buying residential properties to use on Airbnb that’s the problem. It causes the social fabric in an area to break down by sundering local communities and changing their ethos.
Apart from splintering the community and changing the social fabric of a neighborhood, Airbnb as it is currently configured, whereby a person can buy residential property and use it without any regulation, also raises housing prices. . This in turn has a negative impact on young locals who are unable to buy houses locally. The next generation is therefore also affected, which has an enormous social impact on a territory.
At a time of an unprecedented shortage of decent housing in this country and a huge waiting list for housing, buying a property for Airbnb use only compounds the problem of homelessness. shelter. Not regulating this side of the “housing market” is simply insane. The virus that has seen homes treated as part of a property portfolio is one that has been nurtured by major political parties, particularly Fine Gael.
Several heartbreaking, disturbing and disgusting stories have been shared about life next to Airbnb properties since the last article. This has a huge impact on the quality of life for decent citizens in Westport and other affected areas. Another difficulty is that many of these Airbnb owners do not even live in the locality. When challenged with antisocial behavior, they hold back the locals.
The difficulty is simple: too many Irish landlords are either politicians or politically connected people. This means there is no appetite for new laws and less appetite to implement existing regulations. Money becomes the axis on which decisions are made, not the care and protection of a local community.

Generalized problem
The problem also arises in many tourist cities such as Barcelona and Venice. Barcelona want to permanently ban landlords from renting private rooms for short stays. A proposed regulation would allow people to rent rooms in their own homes only for stays of 30 days or more.
At present, municipal authorities in Barcelona (and elsewhere in Catalonia) insist that “short-term owners must apply to have their property approved and classified as a ‘tourist household’. This categorization is necessary if you offer rentals of less than 31 days.
Owners must apply for a certificate of occupancy; property registration; inspection and approval of the property by the municipal authority; make a declaration of ownership as to the intended tourist use; post an up-to-date record of short-term real estate rentals; record contact details, including passport number and length of stay, for all visitors to the property. The owner must also provide an emergency contact number and official complaint sheets must also be available for guests.
The difficulty in Ireland is that members of political parties are so enmeshed in residential property for financial gain. Dwelling houses are fair game.
Last week, The Journal reported: “The proportion of newly built homes purchased by institutions rose from 5.6% in 2010 to almost a third in 2019, according to a report. It marks a six-fold increase over the past decade, according to the research. The National Social Monitor, from the Social Justice Ireland (SJI) think tank, has questioned the state’s ability to provide affordable housing when families are increasingly being squeezed out of the market by private bodies.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are now honeymoon bedfellows. Legislation supporting residential living is needed to protect local communities. Having stripped local authorities of city councils, Fine Gael has a long way to go to redress the democratic deficit. It can happen if Fianna Fáil finds her voice.
Although we are blessed with hard working local politicians, we need them to go the extra mile. Along with restoring local town councils with proper legislative supports, we need to ensure that the social fabric of our towns and cities is properly protected. It would be a valuable legacy for politicians.

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