Airbnb says new government rules banning fraudulent listings ‘won’t work’

Airbnb says the government’s proposed new fines for online platforms running adverts for illegal short-term rentals “will not work”.

The company’s head of public policy in Ireland, Derek Nolan, was speaking in response to amended legislation that will hold online platforms liable for short-term accommodation listings from landlords who don’t have the correct planning permission to use their property on a short term let. The government wants the new law to come into effect from September.

The new rules are being introduced to help free up more long-term accommodation in “areas of rent pressure”, according to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien.

Mr Nolan told the Irish Independent that the government’s lack of consultation with Airbnb and other online accommodation platforms over the new rules means they currently do not know how to comply.

“It is still unclear what the obligations are and what is required,” he said. “We have no way of knowing whether a property is your primary private residence or not. And we don’t see the point of taking stopgap measures that won’t solve the problem, instead of doing what the government committed to in the first place, which was to introduce a national online registration system.

Last month, Airbnb said it expected Ireland to follow other European countries in introducing a state-backed registry for accommodation hosts that would allow online platforms to tell which hosts had the correct scheduling permissions in place.

Mr Nolan said the company remained open to consultation on the government’s proposed legislative changes “even at this late stage”.

“We have a reasonable expectation that we will be consulted and the industry will be consulted,” he said. “This includes hosts and communities across Ireland who depend on guests and tourism.”

This week’s figures from show 342 properties for rent in Dublin, while Airbnb has 376 ‘whole house’ properties available for a month in the same geographic area.

However, Airbnb disputed whether the properties available on its website are a direct substitute for long-term rental accommodation, saying many are temporarily vacant because landlords are away for short periods.

In 2019, Ireland passed rental regulations designed to crack down on landlords who profit from more profitable and less regulated Airbnb listings.

The rules require a landlord to obtain planning permission to use their home as a commercial rental service. They also impose a limit of 90 days per year for rentals, and no more than 14 days at a time.

But with Ireland in the throes of a worsening housing crisis, a number of commentators and politicians say the measures have had no impact.

Earlier this year, Sinn Fein introduced a private member’s bill to penalize platforms and websites advertising properties that do not comply with Irish planning regulations.

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