Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Ceisteanna (68, 70, 77)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

68. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he pans to bring forward regulations for the short-term letting sector. [9684/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

70. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has spoken to the Minister for Finance regarding the negative effects a company's (details supplied) rentals are having on the private rental market; and his plans to adopt measures imposed in other EU cities that have tackled a similar problem. [9711/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

77. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the working group review of short term lettings regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9485/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68, 70 and 77 together.

Under Action 18 of the Strategy for the Rental Sector, my Department established a Working Group in June 2017, with representatives of all major public stakeholders with a policy interest in short-term lettings, including from the Department of Finance, to develop guidance in relation to planning applications, changes of use relating to short-term lettings and to examine the need for new regulatory arrangements.   

The proposals under consideration by the Working Group, which has met on 6 occasions to date, are aimed at facilitating short-term letting of accommodation within permanent residences, known as home-sharing, while protecting existing stock of residential property in areas of high demand, safeguarding neighbourhood amenity and consumer protection, and generating revenue to address any negative externalities of short-term letting.

The Working Group is now working on proposals for an appropriate comprehensive regulatory approach for short-term tourism-related lettings, as well as identification of amendments to legislation as may be necessary to give effect to such regulation.

The Group oversaw the preparation of guidance for local authorities to assist them when considering planning applications relating to short-term lettings. My Department issued a circular in this context to all local authorities in October 2017, a copy of which is available on my Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/circular_pl10_aph3_2017.pdf.

The guidance circular is an immediate measure intended to ensure that existing planning regulations are adhered to and that they are used appropriately to facilitate genuine home-sharing and to protect the supply of rental accommodation and housing stock.  It provides guidance to planning authorities, where an application for planning permission has been made for the purpose of short-term letting.

There is a specific exemption in article 10(4) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 for, within certain limitations or restrictions, development consisting of the use of a house for overnight guest accommodation which, therefore, does not require planning permission. This exemption is typically or traditionally relied on in the context of provision of B&B type accommodation.  The circular does not provide guidance for planning decisions for houses that are covered by this exemption.

However, the term “house” does not, for the purposes of article 10(4), include a building designed for use or used as 2 or more dwellings or a flat, an apartment or other dwelling within such a building.  Providing overnight guest accommodation in such dwellings is therefore  specifically excluded from this exemption and may constitute a material change of use and, if it does, such use requires planning permission.

In this context, the circular provides guidance to LAs when considering applications for planning permission for a material change of use to allow short-term letting in such dwellings and also in houses that are not covered by this exemption.

This guidance is a first step, and is not intended to resolve all the issues related to short-term letting.  It does not constitute an alteration to the existing planning regulations, which are unchanged by the guidance circular.  Indeed, any changes to existing regulations relating to the exemption from the requirement to obtain planning permission are subject to approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas, as set out in the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.

The broader licensing and regulatory approach, on which the Working Group is developing proposals, will provide the comprehensive framework to do this.  The draft report of the Working Group is currently being finalised and I will consider its recommendations when I receive it, before initiating a targeted public consultation on the proposals.