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Senator Roisin Garvey"

627 AirBnBs in North Clare town, but only 36 long-term rentals

THERE are 17 times the number of properties in Ennistymon on Airbnb than are available for long term lets.

This huge disparity of 627 Airbnb properties compared to 36 long term lets was highlighted by Clare senator Roisin Garvey.

Addressing Minister of State at the Department of Housing Peter Burke, Ms Garvey asked for action to limit AirBnB’s impact in Clare, while she said the means of calculating what areas are Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) is flawed.

Regarding AirBnB, Ms Garvey said, “I draw the Minister of State’s attention to figures I gleaned from Airbnb and Daft.ie. I put in 16 October and looked up Ennistymon, one of the closest towns to where I live. There were 627 places for Airbnb but in all of County Clare, there were only 36 places to rent.

“To be clear, Airbnb has a very important part to play in the tourism sector but at the same time, we need to find a balance between people having places to live and tourists having places to stay.

“What we saw happening in County Clare was that businesses could not stay open because they could not get the staff. They could not get the staff because the staff had no place to live.

“Airbnb, as a concept, works. I see best practice in other jurisdictions and even in Dublin, where we have seen some restrictions brought in – at the very least, to make sure they are all legal. That balances the books a bit more.”

Regarding RPZs, she added, “County Clare has no RPZs and yet we have a huge housing issue. The two things are the rent pressure zones and the algorithm not being fit for purpose.

“It might work in very high-density places, such as areas of Dublin, but if you take the whole of County Clare and put it into the same algorithm, it does not represent what is happening on the ground in towns like Ennis and Ennistymon, which might be very popular places and face huge demand.

“Without the rent pressure zones being spread out across the county, we are failing to turn many houses into homes.”

Mr Burke said that action will be taken regarding short term letting.

“Given that short-term letting accommodation is technically tourism-related accommodation and the regulation of such accommodation is more appropriate to the tourism sector, the Government’s housing plan, Housing for All, contains a specific action, Action 20.4, to “Develop new regulatory controls requiring short-term and holiday lets to register with Fáilte Ireland with a view to ensuring that houses are used to best effect in areas of housing need”.

“This will take the regulation of short-term letting accommodation out of the planning code,” said Minister Burke.

He added, “As an interim measure, and pending the establishment of the Fáilte Ireland registration system, which is due to come into operation in 2023, provision was included in the recently enacted Planning and Development, Maritime and Valuation (Amendment) Act 2022 to update and strengthen the existing provisions on short-term letting operated through the planning code.

“This also makes them more enforceable. This will be supplemented by regulations before they can come into effect.

“These new regulatory controls on the short-term letting sector will be in place for an initial period of six months, during which time it is envisaged the Department with responsibility for tourism and Fáilte Ireland will work towards the establishment of the registration system as was committed to in Housing for All.”

He also said there is some protection for tenants outside of RPZs, while there is a process under which areas such as Clare not currently named as RPZs can be assessed.

“Until 2025 rent increases outside of RPZs can occur no more frequently than bi-annually. This provides rent certainty for tenants outside of RPZs for a minimum of two years at a time.

“From 11 December 2021, a cap of 2% per annum pro rata will apply on rent increases in RPZs where the inflation rate is higher than that.

“In all cases, section 19(1) of the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004 to 2022, RTA, prohibits the setting of a rent that exceeds market rent.

“Section 24(a) of the RTA provides that the Housing Agency in consultation with housing authorities may make a proposal to the Minister that an area should be considered an RPZ. Following receipt of such a proposal, the Minister requests the director of the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, to conduct an assessment of the area to establish whether or not it meets the criteria for designation and to report back to him if it should be included as an RPZ.”

Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.