Limerick short-term lets fly in face of legislation

Limerick Chamber Chief Economist Seán Golden

NO PLANNING applications have been granted for change of use from residential to short-term lettings in Limerick, despite almost 40 entire homes in Limerick City being advertised on booking website Airbnb.

According to figures from Limerick City and County Council, there has only been one planning application for change of use from residential to short-term letting since 2019, which was subsequently refused by council planners.

Under legislation introduced in 2019, homeowners who want to rent out their property on a short-term basis within a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) require planning permission to change the use of the dwelling so that it can be used for short-term letting or tourism purposes.

All three of Limerick City’s local electoral areas are within rent pressure zones.

Despite this, a search of short-term letting website Airbnb shows 35 properties listed for Limerick City and suburbs, which are within an RPZ, at the time of going to print.

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Under new legislation within the Planning and Development Act, due to come into effect this year, property owners and websites that advertise short-term lets that don’t have the correct planning will be fined, however, at the time of writing, there is no definite date for this to come into effect.

The revelation was highlighted in Limerick Chamber’s Short-Term Letting Report released earlier this year, which showed that since legislation came into effect in 2019, only 142 planning applications for a ‘change of use’ to short-term letting have been submitted across Ireland, despite 16,000 properties being advertised for short-term let.

For county Limerick to date, there has been just one ‘change of use’ planning application received since 2019, which was refused by the Council.

Speaking to the Limerick Post, Chief Economist with Limerick Chamber Seán Golden said that planning requirements for short-term lets need to be enforced.

“Until the requirement for planning permission is enforced, legislation is not going to have the desired effect of releasing short-term lets back to the market.”

“Requirements to register short-term lets has also been delayed by the EU until the end of the year. Combining this with the fact that it can be more financially advantageous for property owners to rent out using short-term lets rather than residential renting, will mean that releasing homes back on to the market will be pushed further down the line.”

According to the Chamber’s report, they identified 52 properties within Limerick City’s Rent Pressure Zones that could be released back into the residential housing market, but stated that this figure was “unlikely to have a large impact on the availability of residential accommodation”.

“Thankfully, the issue is far less pronounced in Limerick when compared to the likes of Dublin, however, we need to get ahead of the issue,” Mr Golden said.

Only whole properties (full houses or apartments and not rooms in a house) were counted in the Chamber’s report as planning permission is required to rent a person’s entire principal property or second property as a short-term let.

According to research done by the Limerick Post, only one application was lodged with Limerick City and County Council for change of use from residential to short-term let.

That application was put forward to planners earlier this year and was refused because it would result in “two apartment units being withdrawn from the available supply of residential accommodation for permanent occupation within a designated Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ),” according to the Council.

The refusal letter from the Council stated that granting permission would “lead to further exacerbation of the existing shortage of residential accommodation for permanent occupation within the Limerick metropolitan area”.

The proposed new legislation to come into place later this year is aimed at bringing more homes back into the residential market, rather than being used as short-term lets.

Echoing the Chamber’s comments on short-let houses returning to the residential market, the Government estimate that 12,000 properties nationwide could return to the long-term letting market once legislation is enforced.