Radical plans to ease housing crisis set to be introduced

Radical plans to regulate short-term lettings to tackle the housing crisis are set to be introduced in the coming weeks.

The new legislation aimed at easing the housing shortage has been praised across the political landscape.

The new rules, under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, will mean short-term lettings of houses or apartments which are not a principal private residence will now need planning permission for change of use.

Landlords and property owners will have to change the status from residential to a holiday home if they want to sub-let the residence for more than 90 days annually.

These changes are set to come into effect on July 1.

Appearing at the housing committee, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy explained: “Where a person owns a property in the rent pressure zones (RPZs), which is not their principle private residence, any attempts to let it for a short-term letting purposes will be required to apply for change of use of planning permission unless the property has a specific permission to be used for tourism for short-term letting uses.

“It would be highly unlikely that planning permission will be granted for such short-term lettings in these zones.”

He said it will be an offence for anyone to make a false declaration.

Mr Murphy added: “The primary objective of these new legislative reforms is to influence the bringing back of houses and apartments in rent pressure zones which are being used for short-term letting purposes to the traditional long-term letting market thereby helping to ease the accommodation shortage pressures.”

He said that the public will be made aware of the changes in the coming weeks.

Sinn Fein’s housing spokesman Eoin O’Broin described is as an important piece of regulation.

Independent Senator Victor Boyhan queried how the arrangements will be reinforced.

“People need to be clear that there are repercussions for failure to comply with regulations,” he added.

Mr Murphy said: “One positive aspect of this activity is that it has to happen in public for it to work.

“If someone needs to find a property to rent or someone wants to have a short-term letting they have to advertise it and they do that online.”

He said that the regulations have been strengthened, but he did not go into detail as to how they will be enforced.

“I don’t want to advertise them to the people who might be trying to evade them but we have done a lot of looking at this and because it’s happening online it does lend a certain ease to the enforcement,” he said.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry welcomed the new regulations.

“The lack of regulation has exasperated the housing crisis so this is a step forward,” he said.

“I feel on balance it would be best that the proposals were to apply across the board nationally and not just (RPZs).

“It’s been common in recent times to look at the Airbnb websites for a given town and to look at the daft.ie for the same place and to see that the number of properties advertised for short-term lettings outnumbers that are being offered for long-term rental lease.

“The purpose of this legislation is to tackle that situation.”

Mr Murphy said these regulations have been applied to RPZs because legal advice received by the department stated it had to be tied to pressurised areas.

He added: “The objective here is to bring properties that would have been long-term rentals that have gone into the short-term rental market back into the long-term rental market, which is a good thing.”

He confirmed a review into the changes will take place around June 2020.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said: “Credit where credit is due Minister, these are good regulations.

“They will make a difference and is quite radical.”

It comes as new figures show the level of homelessness has increased again to 10,378.

The figures for April show that the number of homeless children is 3,794 and 6,584 adults.

Mr Murphy said family homelessness continues to be “very challenging”.

- Press Association