Seanad debates

Thursday, 22 September 2022

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

10:30 am

Photo of Róisín GarveyRóisín Garvey (Green Party)

I want to highlight an issue that comes to mind again and again. We all know there is a housing crisis and a housing emergency. We struggle in areas such as Clare as we look for water infrastructure so we can build housing estates in our towns and villages. We look at the cost of building houses, builders struggling to get materials and people struggling to find the money to build houses. I want to flag another issue yet again. Last night I did a bit of research. If I look for somewhere to live in Clare in mid-October or the end of October, there are 627 full homes available to let on Airbnb but there are only 36 properties available to rent. There is 17 times more accommodation available on Airbnb. These are full homes. I am not speaking about people using Airbnb to rent a room in a house. I have no problem with people doing that. I do not care what they do with the money. It can go into the mattress for all I care. As we speak, there are 627 full homes available in Clare on Airbnb. I would love to know how many of them are registered, how many of them have planning permission to be advertised as accommodation on Airbnb and how many of them are third or fourth homes. I will have to dig deeper to find out this information.

There is something seriously wrong with this situation. I am sure Clare is not unique. I know it is a very popular spot to visit. We value our tourists but we also value our people having somewhere to live. There has to be a balance. I am not against Airbnb. I want to be very clear on that. When we have 627 full homes available to let on Airbnb in the middle of a dirty winter in Clare and only 36 homes available to rent normally, then we have a serious problem. The House should seek a proper debate on this matter with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

We know we are trying to build houses. I can see social housing estates being built, which is great. I can see some affordable housing being built. I have not yet seen any affordable housing or cost-rental accommodation being built in Clare. It takes a lot longer to build a house then it does to enforce the relevant rules on Airbnb owners. It is an absolute disgrace that Airbnb is allowed to advertise these properties that could be people's homes. We have to prioritise homes for people over Airbnb accommodation for a couple of nights for tourists. It is just not fair. This summer, we had a huge issue in north Clare when many businesses could not open all of the hours they wanted to because staff had nowhere to live. It is great that tourists have Airbnb, but if all of our restaurants and bars are closed because they do not have staff, it is a joke. This is a serious issue. We want rent pressure zones everywhere, not only in Dublin. We also want restrictions on Airbnb. We need enforcement. Shame on Airbnb for being part of this major problem.

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