Independent Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn says he is disappointed with how long it has taken for the council to respond to the growing number of Airbnb and Airbnb-style apartments in the city – and the impact this is having on housing supply in the city.
At a meeting of the council’s housing committee on Friday at City Hall, Flynn said he doesn’t understand why council management haven’t responded to the issue much more quickly. “What’s the timeline? Who are you going to get to do this report?”
Way back in May, Flynn asked council management to draw up a report on Airbnb’s impact on housing in Dublin.
“It seems that hoteliers are hoovering up a huge amount of apartments and keeping them in a basic culture of Airbnb. And therefore the people on our streets – and not just the homeless – can’t avail of these,” he said at the time.
But according to an Airbnb report, 6,100 Dubliners hosted visitors through Airbnb in 2016. And, of those, 88 percent were people sharing their own homes, and 53 percent of them were using Airbnb just to help make ends meet.
Still, there’s also a more professionalised side to Airbnb-ing in Dublin. For example, the company Airsorted offers to fully manage Dubliners homes as Airbnb accommodation. “Cleaning, laundry and keys. Everything managed,” its website says.
Council Executive Manager Tony Flynn said the council has taken a look and identified hot spots in the Docklands, Temple Bar and other areas where tourists want to be.
“There appears to be more than one website [aside from Airbnb] that is advertising this kind of temporary overnight accommodation is the city,” said Flynn.
The council is looking at commissioning research on the issue, and at learning how other cities are dealing with it, he said.
Some cities, concerned with how Airbnb is affecting their housing market, have come up with strict rules.
Should the Council Borrow?
For a while now, councillors have wondered whether they could borrow from the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) to build social housing faster, rather than relying on the central government for funding.
At Friday’s meeting of the council’s housing committee, Barry O’Leary from the HFA – which is kind of like a bank – explained what they do, and how local authorities can borrow from them.
As he pitched it, 2018 might be the year when it is easier for local authorities to borrow. So plans should be put in place now for projects, so local authorities can draw down money then.
However, Sinn Féin Councillor Daithi Doolan, who heads the housing committee, said he plans to hold Minister for Housing Simon Coveney to his statement that there’s no problem with money for housing.
Assistant Chief Executive Brendan Kenny said the same. “There’s no need for us to borrow from the HFA,” he said.
The issue isn’t funding at the moment – although that may happen in a couple of years – the issue now is to get the plans for social housing to the department, he said.
The council’s Tony Flynn said that “Part Vs” are ramping up, and that the council has requests for approval waiting with the department.
The Part V provision, which means developers must set aside 10 percent of dwellings in developments of 10 or more homes for social housing.
This would normally mean that the council would own these social housing units, but there is uncertainty around a provision in the legislation that says local authorities could lease the homes from the developer instead.
The legislation doesn’t say how long the homes should be leased for, so the council is working on the basis that it should be for 20 years, Flynn said.
Workers’ Party Councillor Eilis Ryan raised issues about the cost of Park V units that are being built at the moment in the Docklands, and whether because they are luxury properties, it will be create problems for the council.
“There’s more €1 million apartments for sale down there than there is houses for less than €300,000 at the moment,” she said.