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12th April 2019 | Housing

Airbnb regulations will not be effective without the ‘sharing platform’ sharing information with the authorities: Greens

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Regulations of Airbnb planned by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy need to compel the platform to give the authorities the correct information.

The Green Party are calling Minister Murphy to make this move or enforcement will be unworkable and the current housing crisis demands swift and effective action.

Patrick Costello, Green Party Councillor on Dublin City Council, said:

“These regulations are welcome but they will need effective enforcement. Dublin City Council’s planning officials have spoken in the past about the challenge this will entail. We have also heard from people who live next to apartments that in effect have become full-time hotels and whose complaints have led nowhere. Applying the rules requires gathering evidence of an alleged breach. Council planners have stated that existing enforcement services are working at full capacity and that they will need extra resources to deal with the new rules.

“A better approach to ensuring effective enforcement is already in use with Airbnb and its community of hosts. In 2015, the company reached an information-sharing agreement with Revenue. A similar obligation on Airbnb in relation to planning would provide all the information and evidence needed for effective enforcement.

“Breaching planning laws is a criminal offence. In allowing hosts to share houses without proper planning, Airbnb would be facilitating criminal offences, so it too will need to take responsibility. Hosts must be required to provide proof of appropriate planning permission. The names of hosts and details of stays which are not in line with regulations should also be shared.

“This is about more than planning too. The planned rules state that Airbnb lettings of an entire property over 90 days will be considered commercial and need planning permission. Hotels and aparthotels must pay rates. Dublin city council officials have stated that no Airbnb properties have been registered to pay rates. Why are they getting such an advantage? Information-sharing would ensure all who owe rates are obliged to pay them.

“Airbnb has argued against these regulations and has said there is no data to support them. It is true that there is no public data as Airbnb keeps the details to itself. That websites such as Inside Airbnb have grown to try to fill the gaps is worth noting. If Airbnb wants to argue that the data does not support the regulations it needs to share the figures with the rest of us.

“There must be a positive obligation on Airbnb itself, and on similar companies, to provide information to local authorities. The “sharing economy” has to do some sharing of its own.”