A proposed law aimed at strengthening regulations for short-term letting in the hope of freeing up thousands of properties for use in the wider rental market could be delayed by up to nine months, The Irish Times has learned.
The Government has been awaiting the green light from the European Union for the law which would establish a new short-term tourist letting register.
However, despite hopes the legislation could be enacted by the end of March, the European Commission has extended a “standstill period” while the new law is being considered until December 22nd.
Under the Coalition’s plans the new register would be brought in alongside measures to crack down on property owners and online platforms that breach new rules on advertising apartments or houses for short-term let to tourists.
There has been concern in recent years that the growth of online accommodation platforms such as Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com has led to a reduction in the number of properties available on the long-term rental market.
It is hoped within Government that a short-term tourist letting register, to be run by Fáilte Ireland, could lead to as many as 12,000 homes being freed up for longer-term use at a time of acute housing shortages.
The plan to strengthen regulatory controls on short-term lets was included in the countermotion tabled by the Government in response to this week’s Sinn Féin’s motion seeking an extension to a temporary ban on evictions.
In December Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said she hopes legislation allowing for the establishment of the new short-term letting register would be enacted by the end of March.
The legislation could now be delayed for up to nine months.
A Department of Tourism statement said the proposed Short-Term Tourist Letting Bill was submitted to the European Commission on December 21st last under the terms of an EU Technical Regulations Information System directive.
It said: “Such a notification triggers a standstill period of three months during which the proposed Bill cannot be enacted.
“Today the Department has received a communication from the EU Commission which extends that standstill period until 22nd December 2023.” The statement added: “The Department will now examine the communication from the EU Commission and engage with stakeholders on next steps.”
It could not offer an estimate on when the legislation will be enacted, instead saying: “The Department will examine the communication from the EU Commission and that analysis will inform the timetable for enactment of the Short Term Tourist Letting Bill and the establishment of the Short Term Tourist Letting register”.
Under the plans announced in December property owners offering accommodation for periods of up to and including 21 nights will need to be registered with Fáilte Ireland.
The tourism agency is to monitor online platforms to ensure compliance with the obligation for advertised properties to have a valid registration number.
These numbers will be linked to Eircodes, which will allow local authorities to check if the properties have the correct planning permission for short-term letting.
Special planning permission is required for short-term letting in cities and towns in Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs), particularly for people letting out properties they are not living in themselves.
Fáilte Ireland is to be able to levy a €300 fixed penalty notice on property owners that advertise their property without a valid registration number. It will also have the option of bringing cases to the District Court where the maximum fine is up to €5,000.
Online platforms can be fined up to €5,000 for each listing of a property that does not have a valid registration number.