By Sally Collins
THE government must clamp down on Airbnb agents who are ‘soaking up the rental market’ by limiting the availability of affordable properties, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Tim Lombard said: ‘Airbnb is effectively sucking the life out of rental markets in villages, towns and cities across the country, leaving local people locked out of accessing homes.
‘An Airbnb property which is occupied for three months during the summer season can make significantly more money than a property rented out for 12 months.’
He said that, during a time when we’re facing a critical lack of supply of housing, we can’t afford to have perfectly good homes lying empty for over 50% of the year.
‘Local families are struggling to find a home at a price they can afford,’ he added.
He said the impact of short-term lettings on the housing market was discussed during a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting recently, and Minister Darragh O’Brien agreed that enforcement was needed.
‘Airbnb agents need to be aware of the regulations and the penalties they could face.
‘The maximum fine for non-compliance with planning breaches is €5,000 or six months imprisonment. We have regulations in place, we now need to ensure that they’re being actively enforced so that local communities can feel their tangible benefits.’
Sen Lombard said what was needed was to look at putting a scheme in place to provide alternative tourism accommodation and drive Airbnb properties back into the residential housing market.
‘Surely our towns would be the better for doing this,’ he concluded.