Airbnb says new government rules banning fraudulent listings ‘do not work’

Airbnb says the government’s proposed new fines for online platforms that display illegal short-term rental ads “won’t work”.

The company’s Public Policy Director in Ireland, Derek Nolan, was speaking in response to amended legislation making online short-term accommodation advertising platforms liable to property owners who fail to have the correct planning permission for their property to be used for the short-term. The government wants the new law to come into force from September.

Housing Secretary Darragh O’Brien says the new rules are being introduced to help free up more long-term accommodation in “rent pressure zones”.

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

“It is still unclear what the commitments are and what is required,” he said. “We have no way of knowing whether or not a property is your primary private residence. And we see no point in taking stopgap measures that don’t solve the problem, rather than doing what the government has pledged to do from the start, which is to launch a national online registration system.”

Last month Airbnb said it expects Ireland to follow other European countries in rolling out a government-backed registry for accommodation hosts, which would allow online platforms to identify which hosts have the right building permits.

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

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

Figures from this week from show 342 rental properties in Dublin, while Airbnb has 376 whole home properties for a month in the same geographic area.

However, Airbnb has disputed whether the properties available on its site are direct substitutes for long-term rentals, claiming that many are temporarily vacant because owners are absent for short periods.

In 2019, Ireland passed rental regulations aimed at cracking down on property owners who benefit from more profitable, less regulated Airbnb listings.

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

But as Ireland is gripped by a deepening housing crisis, a number of commentators and politicians say the measures have had no effect.

Earlier this year, Sinn Fein introduced a Private Members Act aimed at penalizing platforms and websites that advertise properties that do not comply with Irish planning regulations. Airbnb says new government rules banning fraudulent listings ‘do not work’

Fry Electronics Team

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