Self-Catering under Pressure
The updated Guidelines for Planners and Owners of Self-Catering in Ireland from the Department of Housing have been expected for months. This is due to issues of planning for STR being interlinked with a Register. Planning permissions for large Aparthotels and Hotels seem to have few problems getting approval in urban areas. Self-catering businesses who are SMEs do not seem to have the same rights if they apply for planning permission. Meanwhile, the creeping RPZ ( Rent Pressure Zones) legislation now covers all of Co Waterford, Limerick, and Kilkenny as well as the Electoral areas of the towns of Westport and Ennis – both tourism towns. There seems to be no communication on the competing needs of tourism and housing. The ISCF held a very well-attended webinar for members on 05/09 to explain the present state with regulations. For more information on the legislation and to protect your business Join the ISCF now.
What is Short-Term Rental?
Any stay in accommodation under 14 nights is considered a Short-term Rental (STR). The proposal is to move this to 21 nights in any STR accommodation. This may include Self-catering and a range of other accommodations, any longer than this will be outside the regulation on STR but may come under RTB regulations. A Register for STR will be managed nationally by Failte Ireland as the statutory agency, with a simple online registration system. You will be asked if you comply with all regulations including planning and insurance. The minimum stay in an STR is not set in law in Ireland, though in Italy recently they have tried to impose a minimum of 2 nights on STR. Most operators in Ireland offer stays from 2-21 nights, though many guests will choose to stay for a few days before moving on to another area.
What Types of Accommodation are Short-Term Rental
Any business that offers a bed for rent for 1-21 nights is in the short-term sector. Owners may be represented in one or more sectors but all businesses need clear representation when the rules for running a business are changing.
Types of Accommodation –
Boat hire where accommodation is provided,
Self-catering includes the following:- cottages, castles, apartments, glamping, houses, heritage buildings, log cabins, pods, shepherd’s huts, and student apartments in summer.
Bed and Breakfast or places hiring a bedroom only.
Caravan and Camping where accommodation units are rented,
Hotels, accommodation on hotel grounds.
What are Rent Pressure Zones
Since Rent Pressure Zones were introduced in 2019 to control Short-term accommodation offerings in Dublin City they have expanded across the country. If your self-catering business is in a RPZ then you are no longer allowed to trade as an STR without the planning permission for such. The need for planning permission for STR has been in place for over 10 years but many businesses that have traded for 20-40 years and never previously needed planning permission now do. The chance of being given planning permission in an RPZ area is very limited, so we have advised members not to apply. For those in business for over 7 years, you can continue in business as an STR, and can do so if you have retained the right to continue in business, but do not get the now required planning permission.
Previous Regulation of STR
There have been some attempts to regulate parts of the STR sector, but to date without success. The EU Commission has to be notified of all regulations on STR, as it refers to the movement of people. All legislation needs to pass EU TRIS Guidelines and in Ireland’s case, the EU Commission has paused the Irish Register until December 23. They have also asked the Irish Government to clarify the Planning Issues in relation to RPZs and the right of SME businesses to trade. This must be sorted by December 2023 and the Irish Self-Catering Federation has been in discussions with the Departments of Housing and Tourism in relation to this regulation.
What National Legislation Will Be Needed?
There are national and EU regulations that will affect the STR industry in Ireland.
1. The EU Register for STR is presently going through the EU Parliament and all STR in the EU will have to be on national data, which will feed into Eurostat for statistics on the sector. As EU legislation supersedes all national laws this will become the Register for Ireland, managed by a new division in Failte Ireland, as the statutory body and report to the EU. Each self-catering unit will have a Registration number allocated to the owner and it will have to be displayed on all advertising.
2. Legislation on Planning by the Department of Housing to allow STR to receive planning permission is being drafted at present by the Department of Housing and will be presented to the Government in the Autumn. It will then be viewed by all interested parties and the Irish Self-Catering Federation (ISCF) encourages each self-catering owner to take responsibility for the future of their business by joining the Federation. Membership is dependent on accepting the Ethos and Quality Assurance Certification of the Federation, which will include inspections of properties on a rotation basis. The Quality Assurance Certification will be a key component to continuing in business in future years, as we will have a Register for STR.
An estimated 11,500 additional tourism beds will be required here in the next decade if Ireland is to meet projected demand, a new report on the sector has concluded. In many areas of rural and coastal Ireland self-catering in its many forms blends into the landscape, is more sustainable, and employs more people in the areas in which they live. Much more economical, family-friendly, and individual units will be in demand in the coming years, rather than hotel-focused beds which are mostly linked to Chain hotels.
An Oxford Economics report commissioned by Airbnb stated rentals have a sizeable impact on the tourism economy in Ireland supporting nearly 5,000 jobs. In 2022, guests using the platform accounted for over €500 million of tourism spending with much of it benefitting local tourism businesses apart from the Airbnb hosts themselves.
Some politicians are complain that there is a lack of legislation for STR – but seem to ignore the fact that we are awaiting proposed new regulation from the Dept. of Housing, while SME owners in RPZ areas cannot offer property for rent and those recently added to the RPZ zones are already receiving enforcement letters, with no right to continue in business.
In Scotland, they have marched on Parliament to object to unfair legislation, while in Wales the standards have been agreed after consultation with stakeholders. The Italian Government has just moved to put a national register together in preparation for EU legislation, with the proposal of a minimum 2-night stay in STR. Due to the arrival of RPZ rules in 2019 and many areas that were added during COVID-19, there has not been the same uproar in Ireland.
We advise all owners to Join the ISCF and get advice if in an RPZ area as soon as possible. Legislation will be in place and the industry be allowed to grow and develop in the next 12 months, but this may be too late for the Midlands, where Just Transitions funding has to be used by 08/2026. Planning has to be in place for all projects in the Just Transition area before any funding is provided. We are hopeful that positive discussions with the relevant Government Departments will bring about positive legislation, in contrast to the negative, unbalanced, and unjust Rent Pressure Zones. We need a renewed focus on tourism with accommodation linked to greenways, Agritourism in rural areas and the development of STR hubs in tourism towns, as it is very clear the development of Self-Catering on the grounds of hotels has not worked to support tourism development in general.