Airbnb’s impact on the rent market a concern

by Aisling Kennedy
Temple Bar

Over 1,000 homes and apartments that are currently available to rent through Airbnb in Dublin city could be contributing to the lack of rental stock and the current homeless crisis in the city.
According to InsideAirBnB.com, a website that was set up in San Francisco to compile information and statistics about housing stock rented out through Airbnb, a total of 1,469 homes/apartments are currently available to rent in the Dublin city council area alone with 1,682 homes/apartments available to rent around Dublin.
This figure does not include homes that have a private or shared room to rent alongside the occupants of the home.
A total of 3,773 homes/apartments currently have private or shared rooms to rent via Airbnb around Dublin.
InsideAirBnB.com also measure the level of availability of each full home/apartment and state that if a home is available for up to 90 days or more it has a high level of availability.
InsideAirBnB.com state that Dublin city has a 72.4% availability, meaning that of the 1,469 homes/apartments available to rent in Dublin, a high amount are available to rent for more than 90 days per year.
Declan O’Brien, secretary of the Temple Bar Residents Association, spoke to the Gazette and said he has noticed a marked increase in the number of apartments to rent through Airbnb in Temple Bar over the last 12 months.
“It has definitely become worse in the last 12 months and I really started to become aware of it in the last six months.
“To put things in perspective, currently on Daft.ie there is about 1,200 houses and apartments available to rent in Dublin. This is a serious issue but no one seems to be talking about it.
“In our building, in Temple Bar, there is only three apartments and we’ve all been here for a long time.
“We’re seeing apartments across from us being let out through Airbnb all the time now and certainly over St Patrick’s weekend and over the Christmas period there was major anti-social behavior because some of the units were let out to groups of young people.
“What’s affecting us more though is we’re seeing long term neighbours moving out and rather than getting new tenants in, the owners are putting their apartments up on Airbnb. There’s a whole community issue going on here and it’s very hard to maintain a community in the area.”
O’Brien stated that in other cities including Berlin, this issue also became a problem and it led the local council to set up a task force of 20 people to tackle the issue.
“In Berlin, they are currently trying to bring two thirds of the short term let apartments back into the rental stock. That equates to roughly 12,000 homes in Berlin.”
Ned Brennan, chief executive of Respond!, told the Gazette: “We can see that the popularity of Airbnb is displacing houses in the Dublin rental market that could, if open to rent on a long-term basis, alleviate somewhat the pressure on supply that is driving up prices in the city.
“It is hard to see how exactly this can be tackled as it appears to be a global phenomenon that is proving extremely popular for home owners and tourists alike.
“We in Respond! will examine approaches in other cities like Berlin and San Francisco to see what could be done without encroaching on people’s property rights.”
In response to statistics compiled by InsideAirBnB.com a spokesperson for Airbnb told the Gazette: “We’ve met countless Airbnb hosts and seen how home sharing has helped them pay their bills, avoid eviction and stay in their homes.
“The typical Ireland Airbnb host earns €2,600 per year by sharing space in their home for 46 nights per year.
“They aren’t taking houses off the market, they are sharing their homes and the cities they love, and using the additional income to help pay the bills.”
The spokesperson added that in November 2015, Airbnb launched its Airbnb Compact Community plan which has three strands to it.
One of those strands is to promote responsible home sharing to help make cities stronger.
“In cities that have not established rules for home sharing, and where housing prices and availability are a critical issue, we will work with our community to help prevent short-term rentals from impacting the availability and cost of permanent housing for city residents.
“We will educate our hosts and work to help ensure they agree to a policy of listing only properties that are permanent homes on a short-term basis.
“We will also continue to work with cities that have established home sharing policies on these matters.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Environment said: “In the constitution property rights are firmly protected and you cannot simply legislate away the rights of private property owners.
“Also it is understood that the majority of the lettings under the Airbb scheme are short term and in lots of cases provide for the use of rooms in houses.”

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