I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 and 233 together.
My Department does not collate data in relation to accommodation let on a short term basis for tourism purposes.
Article 10(4) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2015, dealing with change of use exemptions for planning purposes, provides that development consisting of the use of not more than 4 bedrooms in a house, where each bedroom is used for the accommodation of not more than 4 persons as overnight guest accommodation, shall be exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provided that such development would not contravene a condition attached to a permission under the Act or be inconsistent with any use specified or included in such a permission.
The interpretation and application of provisions relating to exempted development in any particular case is in the first instance a matter for the local planning authority concerned, or An Bord Pleanála on appeal or referral. Similarly, responsibility for enforcement action in relation to any breach of the planning code is a matter for individual planning authorities, under Part VIII of the 2000 Act. Under section 30 of the Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case, including enforcement, with which a planning authority is or may be concerned.
It should be noted that a recent determination by An Bord Pleanála in a particular case has determined that the exclusive use of a residential apartment for short-term holiday lettings is a material change of use requiring planning permission. Therefore, the continued operation of the apartment in question without such planning permission could be considered to be unauthorised development and subject to enforcement proceedings by the relevant local authority under the Planning Act.
In this connection, my Department has, by way of Circular letter PL12/2016 of 22 December 2016, brought this determination to the attention of all planning authorities to ensure that they are aware of:
- the grounds on which the Board reached its decision
- the planning implications in terms of the requirement for such commercial use of residential units to be the subject of an application for planning permission, and
- the importance of a pro-active approach to planning enforcement generally in this regard.
A copy of the Circular letter is available on my Department’s website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/pl_12-16_aph_6-16_recent_an_bord_pleanala_decision_on_short_term_lettings.pdf.
In the wider context, in December 2016, Government approved the publication of a Strategy for the Rental Sector. In terms of rental accommodation supply, the focus in the Strategy is on maintaining existing levels of rental stock and encouraging investment in additional supply, reflecting the shortages in the supply of rental accommodation in key locations, particularly in urban areas. In some of these areas, there is also significant demand for transitory short-term accommodation. In this context, providing short-term rentals at higher prices may be an attractive option for landlords.
The implications of the above-mentioned determination by An Bord Pleanála has raised a number of regulatory and other related issues, such as tax liability, residential tenancy regulation, support for tourism, and planning. The Strategy for the Rental Sector provides for the establishment by my Department of a working group, comprising representatives of relevant stakeholders including local authorities, relevant Departments, public bodies and other interests in the area, with a view to providing more information on the scale and nature of the issue and full clarity regarding the appropriate regulatory approach to be adopted in relation to short-term tourism-related lettings. The working group is due to report in Quarter 2 2017.