The Government has introduced legislation to regulate the short term letting sector. It passed the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 and supplementary regulations entitled the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) (No. 2) Regulations 2019, which came into effect on 1 July 2019.
Purpose of the legislative reform
The Government's view was that the unregulated short-term letting market was contributing to the housing shortage, particularly in areas designated as rent pressure zones. This includes areas where rents are highest, and where people have the greatest difficulty finding affordable accommodation. The purpose of this is to ensure that properties, which may have otherwise been advertised as short term lettings, are brought back onto the long-term market for long-term tenants. The Government has not given an indication of how many additional properties it expects to return to this market.
New rules and their scope
The new provisions will only apply in areas designated as rent pressure zones and a list of these areas can be found here.
The key provisions from the new regulations are as follows:
Short-term letting is defined as the letting of a house or apartment, or part of a house or apartment, for any period not exceeding 14 days
Homesharing (i.e. the letting of a room or rooms in a person’s principal private residence1) is unaffected by the new rules and can continue on an unrestricted basis (on the basis of the exemptions from the new regulations)
Homesharers are permitted to sub-let their entire principle private residence (house or apartment) on a short term basis for a cumulative period of 90 days where they are temporarily absent from their home
In order to benefit from these exemptions, individuals must notify the planning authority in their area in writing and provide certain information. This includes their name, documentary confirmation that the property is their principal private residence, the address and eircode of the property, their contact information and any other such information as the planning authority reasonably requires
Where the 90 day threshold is exceeded, the homesharer will need to apply to their local authority for planning permission for a change of use
The enforcement unit of each planning authority is responsible for monitoring and enforcing these new rules. It is open to question whether local authorities are sufficiently well resourced to monitor this and ensure that these new rules are adhered to. This is a particularly important question, since non-compliance with these rules is a criminal offence, which carries the possibility of a fine and/or imprisonment. The severity of which will depend on the context and seriousness of the breach.