West Cork's holiday rentals under threat from new laws

March 23rd, 2019 7:10 AM

By Emma Connolly

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A meeting in Bantry has heard threats to West Cork’s burgeoning short-term accommodation letting industry.

From June 1st, under new regulations being introduced by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, all short-term let properties in Ireland will require specific planning permission. 

The minister said he was bringing in the new rules as ‘some professional landlords are withdrawing houses and apartments that would normally be rented on a long-term basis to instead rent them out as short-term lets (STLs).’

‘In a time of housing shortage it is unacceptable that rental homes would be withdrawn from the letting market, particularly in our cities and large towns where rents are high and supply is still constrained,’ said the minister. 

However, the the Irish Self Catering Federation has hit back and described the move as ‘Draconian’ and damaging.

Its secretary  Maire  Ní Mhurchu, who lets an award-winning property in Dunmanus, insisted that rentals outside of Dublin, including West Cork, were not part of the housing crisis. 

‘We are actually creating employment in rural Ireland and I’m calling on all those affected to stand up to the minister,’ she said. 

A statement from the ISCF said: ‘In reality, over 80% of the self-catering accommodation providers do not have specific planning for short term rental, and under the Minister’s proposal, operators will now have to undertake the cost of hiring a surveyor or planner to draw plans, submit them to the planning department and hope they are accepted and you will be subject to commercial rates.

‘With the increase in the VAT Rate and Brexit now looming at the end of March, we are more than fearful of the outcome this avoidable legislation will have on the tourism industry as a whole, not just our sector.’

Maire said the cost of getting planning for her would easily amount to thousands – an expense she couldn’t afford. 

‘We don’t make enough money from the rental to warrant the expense,’ she said. 

She has bookings for later this summer and now she says she has no idea what the situation will be by then. 

She also pointed to the almost total collapse of the UK and German market and the fact that while the Wild Atlantic Way has been wonderful, it does mean lost of visitors prefer short-term stays. 

‘They want to stay one or two nights and then move on,’ she said. 

‘But it’s just not worth our while to rent for less than four days,’ added Maire. 

She would, however, welcome some regulation of the sector: ‘Every second place in the area is now an Airbnb so we would welcome some control and regulation – just not something as drastic as this.’

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