Ireland Cracks Down on Airbnb Rentals Amid Housing Crisis

October 25, 2018, 7:28 PM UTC

The Irish government on Thursday announced plans to tackle a housing crisis facing cities, with new regulations to short-term lettings promoted by the home-sharing company Airbnb, Reuters reported. Housing minister Eoghan Murphy introduced the plans.

Ireland has the fastest growing economy and population in the EU, but is also facing a shortage of affordable housing. Earlier this year, activists in Dublin occupied vacant buildings and blocked traffic to protest the housing crisis. They were attempting to raise awareness about vacant buildings either remaining empty or being converted for tourism, CityLab reported.

Dublin’s housing crisis drastically worsened in a short period of time. At the beginning of 2016, there were 400 registered homeless families, which more than doubled to 1,000 by the end of the same year.

Now, the government is proposing regulations to Airbnb, which will go into effect in June. The regulations aim to avert landlords from favoring short-term rental agreements and to keep their rentals on the long-term housing market. Berlin, Barcelona, and Paris have all passed measures to regulate similar issues, according to Reuters.

“The purpose of these changes to the planning code is primarily to address the longer-term rental issues arising from the use of properties for short-term letting,” Ireland’s Department of Housing said in a statement, reported by Yahoo News. “This is an unregulated activity, it is not homesharing as it is typically understood, and in a time of housing shortage it is unacceptable that rental homes would be withdrawn from the letting market, particularly in our cities and large towns where rents are high and supply is still constrained.”

Murphy’s regulations restrict homeowners to rent part or all of their residence to a maximum of 90 days, the Irish Mirror reported. In recent months, Ireland has also announced plans for a $1.42 billion Land Development Agency to help build 150,000 homes over a period of 20 years that will seek to address homelessness and rising property prices, according to Yahoo News.

As for Airbnb, a spokesperson for the company said home-sharing isn’t the cause of the country’s housing crisis. “1 in 5 Irish families use Airbnb to share their homes, boost their income, and explore the world, and rules that legitimize home sharing are in everyone’s best interests,” the spokesperson said.

Activists staging demonstrations with the group Take Back the City, however, see that Dublin’s housing crisis is in part fueled by landlords and developers trying to attract tourists, rather than local residents.