Eoghan Murphy TD, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has announced new regulations in respect of short-term lettings.

“Homesharing” is where a person rents out a part or all of their home for a period of time, usually to tourists who are visiting the country. It can help home-owners meet their day-to-day bills or even pay for their own holidays.

However, as homesharing has become more popular as a form of tourism letting, it has resulted in some professional landlords withdrawing houses and apartments that would normally be rented on a long-term basis to instead rent them out as short-term lets (STLs).

This is an unregulated activity, it is not homesharing as it is typically understood, and in a time of housing shortage it is unacceptable that rental homes would be withdrawn from the letting market, particularly in our cities and large towns where rents are high and supply is still constrained.

The reforms being presented here aim to bring homes, once available on the traditional rental market, back into typical long-term renting, to regulate for the first time STLs, and to allow homesharing to continue as it was originally meant to be – a homeowner hosting people in their own home for short periods of time.

Essentially, the reforms will introduce a “one host, one home” model in areas where there is high housing demand. Homesharing will continue to be permissible where it is a person’s primary residence, and people will have to now register with their local authority as such. An annual cap of 90 days will apply for the renting out, on a short-term basis – i.e. for 14 days or less at a time, of a person’s entire home where it is their primary residence.

Where a person owns a second property and intends to let it as a STL, they will no longer be allowed to do so unless the property is already permitted to be used for tourism/short-term letting purposes. Planning permission for a change of use to STL can be sought and it will be up to each local Planning Authority to grant permissions, based on guidance that will issue from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. In areas of high housing demand and, taking into account other relevant factors such as cumulative impacts, it is unlikely that permission would be granted.

Additional resources will be provided within Dublin City Council’s Planning Section to oversee the compilation of registers and to monitor enforcement. People found to not be in compliance with these changes will risk criminal conviction under forthcoming legislation.

These proposed changes will not affect the operation of holiday homes as typically understood, or longer-term flexible lettings which are provided for those coming to Ireland under employment contracts.

Further reforms may be needed in the future, working in tandem with the tourism sector and STL platforms, to regulate STL as a tourism activity (rather than to solely protect the longer-term rental stock in high demand areas in a time of housing shortage).

It is intended that the new planning changes will come into effect on 1 June 2019, to allow property owners to prepare for and adapt to the new laws. In addition to revised draft exempted development planning regulations, which have already been drafted, amendments to primary legislation will also be introduced which will underpin and strengthen the new proposals; drafting of these amendments is currently under way.

In recognition of the fact that the draft exempted development regulations will be submitted to the Oireachtas for its consideration and positive approval before coming into effect, and following on from the extensive work that the Joint Committee on Housing has already done in this complex policy area, I will be requesting the Oireachtas to conduct a short, focused review of the draft proposals, with a view to the relevant changes being finalised and endorsed before the end of the year.