Ireland's new laws put time limits on home-sharing

The Irish government is limiting how often homeowners can rent their properties on home-sharing platforms. Photo credit: Airbnb

In June, new restrictions will limit the ability of homeowners in Ireland to rent their homes on sharing platforms like Airbnb, but this isn't stopping people from advertising their houses and apartments as demand grows, according to a new report from home-sharing tracking service AirDNA.

Under the new rules, which were proposed by Ireland's Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, homeowners will not be allowed to rent their properties for more than 14 days at a time, and no more than 90 days a year. Would-be renters will have to register with their local authority and provide information on how many days the space has been used.

Homeowners who want to rent their properties for longer periods will have to get permission to register their properties for commercial use; local authorities in areas with a high demand for housing will be able to refuse permission.

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Murphy has reportedly said landlords and investors will not be granted permits and, consequently, will not be able to make their properties available on home-sharing sites.

According to home-sharing tracking service AirDNA, the number of Irish homes advertised for short-term rentals on Airbnb alone has grown by more than 1,000 over the past year. A total of 5,855 homes were available in Galway, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford as of mid-December, up 1,015 from the same month last year, a rise of 20 percent.

Prices also are on the rise in those cities, with average daily rate for a Dublin property now at €143 compared with €126 in December 2017, according to AirDNA.

Restrictions are Trending

These kinds of restrictions are hardly new, and other cities have implemented similar measures in recent years and months. In September, Edinburgh's City Council called for a license limiting Airbnb rentals to 45 nights per year, in addition to a levy on tourists of £1 per person per night. 

More recently, Amsterdam’s city government proposed a ban on accommodations-sharing platforms in three areas of the city, in part because of the impact on the city’s housing market and what it describes as “social cohesion.” This proposal came on the heels of existing limitations, such as a maximum of 60 days—30 days as of January 1—and maximum of four guests per listing.

Enforcing Limits

The Amsterdam experiment may paint a picture of what Ireland's experience may be. A senior housing official at the City of Amsterdam told the Irish Independent newspaper that under the city's former 60-day rule, Airbnb bookings still grew by 8 percent in the past year. "The growth is not as much as it was in the beginning," he told the paper. "But it's still growing. When limited to 30 days, that growth could stop."

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official told the paper that enforcing the restrictions makes it hard to limit the growth of home-sharing. "We have needed money and manpower to do that," he said. "If people feel the chance of being caught is minimal, then even the best policies are only words."

Similarly, as local Irish paper the Galway Daily noted, difficulties in enforcing the existing 4-percent cap in rent pressure zones (parts of the country where rents are highest and rising, and where households have the greatest difficulty finding accommodations they can afford) demonstrate the many challenges in properly regulating the residential rental market. If the government cannot enforce how much landlords charge their tenants, it could prove difficult to enforce how many nights a private home is rented on a sharing platform, it was suggested.