I propose to take Questions Nos. 1552, 1554 and 1590 together.
Under Action 18 of the Strategy for the Rental Sector published in December 2016, a Working Group was established, involving representatives of all major public stakeholders with a policy interest in short-term lettings, to consider measures aimed at facilitating the short-term letting of accommodation within permanent residences (homesharing), protecting the existing stock of residential stock in areas of high demand, providing clarity in relation to the appropriate regulatory approach - from a planning perspective - for short term tourism related lettings while also recognizing the important role of short-term lettings in the provision of tourist accommodation.
Having considered the Working Group's report as well as the recommendations in the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government on short-term lettings, I announced plans to regulate short term lettings. As the proposals are primarily aimed at addressing the impact on the private rental market by the use of residential homes for short term tourism type letting, in areas of high housing demand, it is intended that the new provisions will only apply in areas designated as rent pressure zones under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.
Under the proposed new arrangements, homesharing will continue to be permissible for a person’s primary residence on an unrestricted basis. In addition, an annual cap of 90 days will apply for the renting out on a short-term basis of a person's entire home where it is their primary residence, with such short-term lets being restricted to periods of 14 days or less at a time. Where the 90 day threshold is exceeded, change of use planning permission will be required.
Furthermore, where a person owns a property that is not their principal private residence and intends to let it for short-term letting purposes, they will also be required to apply for a change of use planning permission unless the property already has a specific planning permission to be used for tourism or short-term letting purposes. It will be up to each local planning authority to consider such applications, having regard to guidance that will issue from my Department, taking account of housing demand pressures in the area concerned and other relevant factors such as cumulative impacts.
The new arrangements are being introduced through the planning code and each planning authority’s enforcement unit will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing these new requirements. Additional funding will be provided to support local authority enforcement of the new short-term letting arrangements and my Department will be engaging with the relevant local authorities in this regard.
It is intended that the proposed planning reforms will come into effect on 1 July 2019 and the primary legislative provisions required to underpin the proposals are currently progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas through the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018. In addition, the necessary supporting planning regulations to further underpin the proposals are currently being finalised and details will be published in due course.
It is important to note that these proposed changes will not affect the operation of holiday homes as typically understood, or longer-term flexible type lettings including lettings to those coming to Ireland under temporary employment contracts or those moving employment location and who require temporary accommodation while seeking long-term accommodation etc. Similarly, they will not affect the operation of purpose built student accommodation, for which permissions are typically granted with planning conditions that generally facilitates the use of student accommodation complexes as alternative summer or holiday accommodation but are reserved as student housing during the academic year. This is on foot of advice provided my Department to planning authorities, by way of Circular Letter PL8/2016 issued in July 2016, regarding matters to consider in relation to proposals for student accommodation. It was made clear that housing for students is a specific and important segment of the overall housing sector with distinct characteristics and requirements. Therefore, safeguards are required to ensure that student accommodation is not used as permanent residential accommodation or other uses and is restricted to students during the academic year. However, planning authorities were reminded of the importance of a steady rental income for such student accommodation developments throughout the year in order to ensure the deliverability of development projects from a funding point of view and to recognise that student accommodation complexes can play an important role in providing affordable accommodation for tourists and visitors in major urban areas during peak summer demand periods.