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Cork city councillor to seek injunction against AirBnB for illegal listings
Council enforcement has led to just 10 "informal warning letters" issued in the first three months of 2022 but 243 active rentals are currently listed for short-term let in Cork City.
A councillor intends to propose that Cork City Council seek an injunction against AirBnB, to prevent the global short-term letting website from advertising properties let illegally in Cork.
Councillor Oliver Moran said he’s seeking legal advice to see if it’s possible for Cork City Council to force the tech giant to remove illegal property listings and that he plans to propose a motion at the next council meeting.
“I spoke with a lawyer today,” Green Party North-East ward Cllr Moran said. “They will examine the relevant acts and offences involved and advise us in the coming week.”
The news comes as a report issued last Monday showed Cork City Council’s attempts at enforcing planning laws designed to curb short-term letting.
The impacts of AirBnB and other short-term letting platforms are having on the availability of housing stock has been making headlines this year both nationally and locally.
Tripe + Drisheen revealed that 1,089 full homes were being advertised for short-term lets on AirBnB and Vrbo, while just 62 long-term rentals were advertised on Daft.ie the same day, in snapshot analyses of market monitoring website AirDNA and Daft at the end of March.
Clamp-down since 2019
A new law clamping down on hosts short-term letting entire homes for more than 90 days each year came into effect in July 2019.
Under the law, hosts must apply for change-of-use planning permission if they are short-term letting properties for longer.
However, the ability of local authorities to resource enforcing the law unaided has been called into question.
Just 19 homes in Cork County, and none in Cork City, had been granted this change of use since the law changed, our investigation revealed; just 3% of hosts countywide had made a planning application.
10 “informal warning letters” in spring 2022
Just 10 warning letters were sent to hosts suspected of breaking the law in the first quarter of 2022, according to a report council staff released last Monday.
In total, warning letters have been sent to 102 property owners by council staff since the law changed in 2019: 35 in 2020, 57 in 2021 and 10 in Quarter 1 of 2022.
There are currently 243 active rentals listed for Cork city and 45% of these are entire homes, according to AirDNA.
Council staff investigate potential illegal short-term lets using website Inside AirBnB as well as information posted by hosts to AirBnB itself. The council send three informal warning letters followed by formal warnings and then open an enforcement file.
Some hosts delete their AirBnB posting after receiving council warning letters, the council report revealed. 63 enforcement cases have been opened on owners who have not responded to warning letters.
A “black market that’s harming society”
Cllr Moran, believes that local authority enforcement is not enough and that AirBnB, who recorded revenue of $5.9 billion in 2021, should not be permitted to advertise properties that breach local laws.
He said recognising that hosts who did not comply with the 2019 law were operating illegal businesses was important: “That realisation, that these are illegal businesses and the owners are committing an offence, needs to become crystalised in people's minds."
"These illegal businesses reduce the amount of housing available, for families, workers, retired people, students. It's a black market that's harming society and the economy.”
Legislation for fines proposed
Cllr Moran’s statements come as Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin this week introduced a Short-term Lettings Enforcement Bill that seeks to fine platforms who advertise illegally let properties.
“It is unacceptable, whether it’s AirBnB or any other platform, for them to be profiting from the advertisement and letting of properties that are not compliant with planning law,” Mr Ó Broin said in the Dáil on Tuesday.
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