Short-term rentals dominate tourist towns, leaving people homeless

A new approach is needed to regulate short-term rentals, with tourist towns in particular struggling to maintain long-term rental properties.

The problem is evident in dozens of cities and towns across the country, with the number of properties listed for short-term rental far exceeding those available for long-term living.

The system has been lambasted as “backwards” by Cillian Murphy, a Fianna Fáil councilor with a background in tourism, who says towns like his home of Kilkee are struggling.

As of Friday afternoon, there was one long-term property available for rent in Kilkee on popular site, while there were 74 full homes available for short-term rent across multiple platforms.

Mr Murphy said it was important to understand why people are leaving the long-term rental market for the short-term market and said he believed it was largely economic.

“You can earn as much in a week in Kilkee in July as you could in a month if it was long term,” Mr Murphy said.

“But I wonder if it’s due to regulation. There’s a lot of regulation in the market in the long term, and not in the short term,” he added.

Mr Murphy believes that more regulation could stem the flow of those switching from long-term to short-term rentals.

One of the most popular short-term rental platforms is Airbnb.

Derek Nolan, Airbnb’s public policy manager for Ireland, said he would welcome regulatory progress.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien recently conceded that current regulations requiring short-term let properties to be registered over a certain period of time are not working. He explores new ideas to quell the problem.

“We welcome the regulations and want to work together on the rules, so we’ve had active discussions with the government on how to implement a registration system,” Mr Nolan said.

He added that “this will help everyday families benefit from visitors to their communities while suppressing speculators and bad actors.”

The problem extends beyond Kilkee and Clare and affects tourist towns across the country.

In Cobh on Friday, there were four properties advertised online for long-term rental and 31 for short-term rental. Kinsale had one long-term property advertised against 40 short-term rentals.

In Kerry, Killarney had four long-term properties, compared to 43 short-term rentals.

Killarney also lacks long-term rental options
Killarney also lacks long-term rental options

Meanwhile in Cahersiveen, there were no properties available for long-term rental, compared to 56 properties available for short-term rentals on various platforms.

Lisa O’Shea, a single mother from Cahersiveen, says she will face homelessness in the coming weeks due to the fact that her house has been sold and there is no long-term rental available in the region.

Ms O’Shea, who runs a business in the town, says she is aware the town relies heavily on the tourism industry, but a growth in the number of people visiting the town and the fact that accommodation at the hotel is used to house refugees, means more people than ever are looking for short-term rentals on homes.

“We had two great years on Covid. Many Irish people have discovered South Kerry and can’t wait to come back,” she said.

“But there is currently nowhere to stay, which will further increase the number of Airbnbs.”

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