By Kieran O’Mahony and Jackie Keogh
A KINSALE councillor has slammed what she called irresponsible Airbnb owners for putting the health of locals in at risk by continuing to rent properties during Level 5 lockdown.
Cllr Marie O’Sullivan (FG) raised the issue at last week’s online meeting of Bandon Kinsale Municipal District and cited one example of a French family arriving in Kinsale to stay at an Airbnb for three weeks.
Just last week, gardaí in Kinsale fined seven people for breaching travel restrictions and sent them ‘packing’ back to Cork city after they arrived in taxis from to stay at an Airbnb outside the gourmet town.
‘Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs have been forced to close due to government restrictions and it’s very frustrating, then, to see some Airbnbs operating within the area with total disregard to the current Level 5 restrictions,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan. ‘Most landlords are very conscious of the current situation and are not operating. However, some are and the problem is that most of these landlords do not live in the area and are not accountable to their neighbours and the property is just an ATM for them.
‘I was given an example of a family who arrived from France for three weeks and who were staying in a property in town. This is not good enough.’
Cllr O’Sullivan called for legislation to be brought in to tackle these properties still being advertised for rental in the middle of a lockdown.
Senator Tim Lombard also called for a clampdown on the use of Airbnbs in Kinsale during the Level 5 lockdown.
He wrote to the chief of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, about the level of complaints received by his office.
He believes the local authority has powers in rent pressure zones like Kinsale, to regulate Airbnbs.
A senior planning official replied and another phoned him, he said, and it was agreed that the matter would be referred to the Council’s Joint Policing Committee for clarification.
A spokesperson for Airbnb told The Southern Star: ‘Public health is our priority and we inform all hosts and guests to follow the rules at this incredibly challenging time. We make this warning clear on our website and will take action on any concerns brought to our attention.’
He said this means ‘investigating and seeing if – based on the information available – whether the host or guest is in breach of local restrictions.
‘At that point, we can take further steps up to and including removal from the platform. We also fully co-operate with any requests from An Garda Síochána.’