Threshold calls for legislation to establish a short-term letting register to be progressed as tourist season starts

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15 March, 2024: As Ireland’s tourism season kicks off this St Patrick’s Day bank holiday weekend,national housing charity Threshold have called for expedience on the implementation of Fáilte Ireland’s short-term letting register, now that the EU Parliament have agreed on regulations for this industry. With rented housing supply continuing to be under severe strain, the lightly regulated practice of short-term lets (STLs) means a significant volume of houses that could be long-term homes for families and individuals, are instead being let to domestic and international tourists.

Despite previous efforts to regulate STLs through planning regulations, instances of hosts bypassing planning permissions have been uncovered, highlighting a substantial gap between existing regulations and enforcements. This has enabled a situation where thousands of properties – particularly in areas of both high housing and tourist demand, such as Dublin and Galway – are being leased out to holidaymakers, further impacting supply to the long-term rental sector.

Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty said that recent developments in the European Parliament – around the acceptance by all member states of EU regulations for short-term lets – means Ireland should now take the necessary action to pass legislation to establish the Register of Short-Term Tourist Lettings – as set out in the General Scheme of the Registration of Short-Term Tourist Letting Bill 2022 – which would be operated by Fáilte Ireland.

The number of short-term lets currently operating in Ireland is causing disruption to the long-term private rental market. The narrative of some companies that promote short-term letting is that hosts are “renting a room in their primary home,” but this is not always the case.

Studies1 have suggested that increasing touristification and gentrification have created a whole new class of homebuyer – the short-term rental speculator. A high proliferation of short-term letting platforms can reduce affordable housing options, higher average asking rents, and erosion of neighbourhood social capital. This is impacting the viability of cities and towns. One tangible example that many people may be able to relate to, is that of people who work in the tourist sector being unable to secure homes in or around where they are workingThis simply has to change.”

Up to 12,000 properties could be re-introduced to long-term rental market

Since 2018, Threshold has been at the forefront of advocating for the regulation of STLs to safeguard the availability of long-term housing units. The charity welcomes the proposed Short-Term Letting Register and associated regulations outlined in the General Scheme of the Registration of Short-Term Tourist Letting Bill 2022.

The proposed legislation aims to introduce registration requirements for property owners of STLs, ensuring compliance through fines of up to €5,000 for non-registration and penalties for online platforms advertising unregistered properties. Fáilte Ireland, the national tourist board, estimates that up to 12,000 properties could be reintroduced into the long-term rental market on enactment of these regulations.

The European Parliament has now adopted a regulation which aims to streamline data collection and sharing obligations for online platforms. This in turn can pave the way for Ireland to implement its STL register and enact this legislation before the summer, according to McCafferty.

While Threshold welcomes statements from Minister Darragh O’Brien, who wishes to see the online register for STLs in place by summer 2024, greater momentum is needed to realise this. We call on Minister Catherine Martin and her department to take the necessary next steps to ensure the legislation is commenced and rigorously enforced by summer 2024.

“Without effective regulation and enforcement, these homes will remain unavailable to those who need them most. We would urge the Government to prioritise this legislation and ensure it is passed to alleviate the strain on our housing and long-term rental market, so that a more balanced and fairer one exists for renters in Ireland”.

As the legislative process progresses, Threshold remains committed to supporting renters throughout and would urge anyone struggling with their tenancy to contact an advisor for support.

Threshold’s free helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am- 9pm at 1800 454 454, with webchat at www.threshold.ie/advice/help for any renter in need of advice or support.

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