WHY REGISTER FOR SELF-CATERING PROPERTY PAUSED
The Irish Self Catering Federation (ISCF) accepts the decision of TRIS (Technical Regulation Information System) at the EU level to postpone the Registration for Short Term Rental Bill which the Department of Tourism was bringing through the Dáil.
The Irish Self-Catering Federation has represented the self-catering industry for the past 21 years. In 2017 the federation called for a national register in order for the sector to develop and grow. We strongly believe that Fáilte Ireland as the statutory agency responsible for the register will give a clear picture of the self-catering needs across the country. We have been working with the Department of Tourism, Failte Ireland, and at the EU level to develop a sector we can be proud of. We call on the government to give planners and self-catering owners around the country the guidelines needed for clarity on the necessary planning requirements in RPZ areas.
Need for A Register for STR
The ISCF recently attended the Oireachtas Tourism Committee, with ITIC, Expedia, and AirBnB to discuss the Registration for STTL Bill. We called on the government to bring in the guidelines for planners and owners so that clarity can be given on planning in RPZ areas going forward. Even the Irish Planning Institute stated that the present planning system guidelines are unworkable. We have noted the increase in Aparthotels in the Dublin area since 2019 when most STR in Dublin was closed down by the RPZ legislation, which is an urban-centric approach. The shocking removal of tenants from a building on Reuben St and re-opening as an unregistered aparthotel is a flagrant breaking of the law. At the same time, there is a lack of management of derelict properties in urban areas of Ireland.
There is a lack of robust spatial data on the number of Self-catering units in Ireland due to the lack of a register. The Registration for STTL Bill as proposed would devastate the rural tourism economy, as stated in the Oireachtas by politicians.
The majority of Irish Self-Catering Federation members are in rural areas, have been in business for many years, and offer a whole house for short-term rental. Our members have been in the industry for many years, from around the country and the income provided is very important to rural Ireland’s economy. In the Wild Atlantic Way area, there are more STR beds than in hotels. Failte Ireland welcomed Online Travel Agents (OTAs) into the Irish Market in 2011 and advised owners to sign up with them. This was despite the many Irish marketing companies offering self-catering locally or nationally and we recommend booking with these Irish marketing companies directly.
At present Register there are no guidelines for planners and owners of STR, no planning permission can be given*. The housing market is dysfunctional in Ireland, with an increase of 10% in the population and only 1% extra housing of which there is none in the Social housing market. There are many derelict properties all around the country, some of which are owned by city councils and these properties could be used to provide accommodation. The reform of the planning system as presently proposed by the Department of Housing was rejected as unworkable by the IPI. * The STR sector is being blamed for the housing crisis, while the cause of the crisis is within the same Department. The Department of Housing is killing the indigenous Irish self-catering sector by not allowing Irish families and Irish businesses who have provided this service for many years to get planning at present. This situation has also stifled any development of the industry in urban and rural Ireland
EU Publishes Data on STR
The EU is publishing data on the STR sector, having come to an agreement with the large international Online Travel Agents (OTA)s to provide data. While this is great progress it doesn’t give the full picture. It does not reflect the Irish market where approx 50% of the bookings are taken directly with the Irish marketing agents, some directly with owners, and then with the OTA. The ISCF and ITIC have called for clear tourism data to be provided by the CSO so this detail can be reflected in the EU statistics. With clear data, the sector can be developed, rather than guesstimating figures ‘on the back of envelope’ as stated by an official of the Department of Housing at an Oireachtas Committee in January 2023. The hotel accommodation sector has not recovered as fast as other segments of the tourism industry, post-Covid, Eurostat figures show that hotel rooms have not returned to the same level. Short Stay Holiday Homes Camping grounds, and Mobile home parks show an increase, and this is the first time all such data has been brought together. There are businesses that have recently set up self-catering with no planning permission and have been taken to task by local planning authorities. The ISCF calls for simple clear guidelines to allow existing self-catering to continue in business and for new businesses to be developed where needed. This is particularly true with the development of Greenways where accommodation has to be factored into the planning process. In Waterford, to a large RPZ area, no self-catering in any form is allowed to get planning permission along the greenway route.
EU Commission Paused Irish Register for STTL Bill
The government recently tried to implement legislation relating to the register for self-catering accommodation or short-term tourist letting STTL – Registration for STTL Bill. All legislation in EU states affecting the provision of a service, electronic transactions and data on people have to follow certain criteria. Due to a lack of progress on
guidelines that would bring clarity in RPZ areas and the EU introducing its own legislation relating to registers for STR, it decided to pause the Registration for STTL Bill. * The EU made comments on the Irish Registration Bill, they identified parts of the bill as not acceptable under EU law and paused the legislation. The reasons for pausing the register
- Failure by Irish authorities to prove how their “restrictive” measures on Airbnb would make best use of existing housing.
- The proposed laws apply in rural areas, as well as towns and cities where short-term let’s are “more likely” to have an effect on rents.
- Failure by Irish authorities to provide any alternatives. Lack of evidence to show how the clampdown would be “proportionate”
The ISCF calls for the continuation of the Round Table talks to clarify the guidelines for council planners and owners of STR in Rent Pressure Zone areas, as this has not been provided since RPZ regulations were introduced in 2019. In rural areas, we support a register but see no need for a change of planning for existing self-catering properties. For new businesses a clear STR designation on the planning permission being given, and this option is to be included in all county development plans. For Kerry Co Co we ask them to stop harassing self-catering owners with enforcement letters as self-catering owners are SME businesses, not commercial premises, and are an essential part of rural and coastal economies. There will be a lack of tourism accommodation on offer in Ireland in 2023 due to Government Contracts.
We need a balanced tourism offering in Ireland where all types of accommodation should be available, giving value and quality to all guests in Ireland. Rural Ireland is economically dependent on the income from tourism in all its forms and self-catering is an essential option for families and groups.
Contact the ISCF for more Details or for Membership.