B&B owners slam ‘rushed’ new advertising rules – The Irish Times

New rules due to be introduced next month that will penalize online platforms, such as Airbnb, which accept short-term rental listings without proper planning permission, have been described as “rushed” by a representative body of vacation rental owners.

The Irish Self-Catering Federation (ISCF), whose members rent out 6,000 holiday homes across the country, is also asking the government for clear guidance on the application of advertising rules for short-term rentals and the need to owners to apply for planning permission.

The federation is also demanding an urgent meeting with the Department of Housing to discuss the new rules, having failed to secure a meeting with the minister in charge of the department, Darragh O’Brien.

Under current rules, owners of short-term vacation rentals in one of the 54 state-designated Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) must apply to the appropriate local authority for a building permit.

Most PZRs include large urban areas which offer significant alternative tourist accommodation options. Some RPZs, however, overlap with rural areas that are heavily dependent on tourism, such as around Killarney, Co Kerry or Kinsale, Co Cork.

Since September 1, platforms like Airbnb but also the federation, because it runs a reservation service, are exposed to fines of up to €5,000 each time they advertise short-term rentals RPZ who do not have the appropriate authorization. The new rules were part of a legislative amendment introduced by Mr O’Brien in July.

Huge stress

The federation says the system requiring planning for owners of holiday homes in RPZ areas is causing “huge stress”, and in many cases owners have walked out of the market altogether, while others complain that it is extremely difficult to obtain the proper authorization due to the strict attitudes adopted by local authorities.

Federation President Máire Ní Mhurchú gave the example of a farm owner 11 km from Killarney, “halfway up a mountain”, who requested permission from the local authority to two independent rentals on the farm. She says the landlord was refused permission for short-term rentals even though the properties were ‘unsuitable’ for long-term rental accommodation as they were in the middle of a working farm.

“There are no clear guidelines on how the rules should be interpreted. It makes some people afraid to apply for planning permission,” she said.

Small independent tourism businesses were unnecessarily “shut down”, Ms Ní Mhurchú said. “There are serious variations in how the rules are interpreted.”

She said the federation, as a provider of a reservations platform, will need to verify that advertisers in RPZs have a schedule. “Yet there is no publicly available resource that allows me to go and check if everything is in order,” she said. “There is no framework to save the rules.”

The minister has cracked down on short-term rentals in an attempt to force some landlords to bring them back into the long-term housing market. Mr O’Brien’s spokesman had not yet returned a request for comment ahead of publication.

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