The Government says that the proposed legislation will provide the Department of Housing and local authorities with an accurate register of all short-term letting stock across the country
It adds that Fáilte Ireland will, for the first time, have a full picture of tourist accommodation across the State, arguing that this will enhance the agency's ability to promote tourism investment.
"The introduction of the register will also provide a level playing field for all accommodation providers, by ensuring transparency and visibility across the sector," the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media says.
The main features of the bill include:
- The establishment of a new Short-Term Tourist Letting (STTL) register,
- Revisions of existing Fáilte Ireland registers to bring them into line with the new registration systems,
- The introduction of authorized officers to oversee adherence,
- A provision that any party offering accommodation for periods of up to and including 21 nights will need to be registered with Fáilte Ireland,
- An obligation on those advertising properties for short-term letting (including online platforms) to ensure that the properties have a valid registration number as provided by Fáilte Ireland,
- Updated penalties for the enforcement of the registers.
Fáilte Ireland will be able to levy a €300 fixed-payment notice on property owners who advertise their property without a valid registration number, and will also have the option to bring the case to the District Court, where the maximum fine is up to € 5,000.
For platforms, the agency will be able to impose fines of up to €5,000 for each invalid listing for advertising properties without valid registration numbers.
Catherine Martin (Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, pictured, right) said that the measures were aimed at addressing "an imbalance" that had emerged between the short-term and long-term rental markets in some areas of the country.
She added that the new controls would ensure "balanced and sustainable tourism development", while also helping to address the staffing issues facing many tourism businesses, by providing more housing options to tourism and hospitality workers in these areas.
The minister is hoping that the legislation will be enacted in the first quarter of next year.
Extra six months
Property owners who need to apply for change-of-use planning permission will be given six months to continue to offer their accommodation to tourists while their application is being considered.
"These new measures will bring our approach to regulation in line with major tourism destinations across Europe - including Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona," Minister Martin said.
Darragh O'Brien (Minister for Housing, pictured, left) said that the Government believed that there was "great potential" for the long-term rental market in the significant numbers of properties currently being used for short-term lettings.
Paul Kelly (CEO, Fáilte Ireland) said that the agency had conducted detailed research into the experience of cities and countries across the world, and had designed a registration system that would allow property owners to "quickly and easily" register their properties.
Fáilte Ireland estimates that there are approximately 30,000 STTL properties in the State currently being advertised online, of which 20,000 are estimated to be whole houses or apartments.