Dublin puts blame on Airbnb… again

The new protocol is whatever the issue is blame it on Airbnb.

Airbnb is being blamed for causing the housing crisis in Dublin. Critics are saying that the up and coming ‘hip’ way to travel site is causing apartments and houses that would be long-term let into short-time let. The site apparently contributing to Ireland’s housing shortage by taking housing off the market.

Policymakers and businesses has started a trend worldwide of blaming this short-term rental site for economic and societal problems with little evidence to back it up, claims Mark Paul from the Irish Times.

Ireland is not the only blaming Airbnb, New York has hotels (Airbnb’s competition) lobbying politicians left and right. Italy accused Airbnb of turning the country into a theme park.

Such problems are linked to issues in Venice from Airbnb, supposedly. With landlords making more money in a week from travelers compared to long-term lets in a month; therefore, the landlords are increasingly turning their properties into Airbnb listings. Venice being such a small city, there is not many places to rent in the first place. This is causing fury among locals claiming it is pushing the locals further and further away from Venice.

With 30 million annual visitors, Venice is turning more like a theme park with local shops closing and tourist shops appearing. Locals being forced to commute longer distances for their jobs. A lot of these issues being blamed on Airbnb like Dublin.

With local businesses in Dingle, tourist town in Kerry, also taking a jab at Airbnb. Claiming that Airbnb is taking away accommodations for seasonal staff despite Airbnb bringing in loads of tourists. Their claim is apparently contributing to a decline in restaurants around the area.

The Kerryman newspaper says social housing has not been built in over 8 years which could also be to blame for the shortage of housing.

This $30 billion-valued company is not going down so easily though. Currently, Airbnb has lobbied Irish politicians 38 times over 18 months including private meetings with Airbnb’s chief financial officer and former minister of finance.

Richard Shakespeare, assistant chief executive of Dublin City Council, announces in a Oireachtas committee on housing meeting that he does not believe a significant impact has been made by Airbnb on the shortage. This is the second meeting the Oireachtas committee on housing have met on this particular issue.

Airbnb has around 7,000 total rentals in Dublin with about half renting as the full property. Listing of entire properties though does not mean it is not an available housing unit. An owner may still live there but stay in at a family/friend’s house if people rent their home out.

Not only that, a lot of these properties are in prime Dublin locations with many unaffordable for the homeless population, the ones who are affected the most from the housing shortage.

A total of 550 Dublin homes listed were rented over 120 nights a year. That could be the listings made unavailable for long-term let because of websites like Airbnb. Many, however, located in the expensive part of Dublin.

Airbnb may be phased out in a couple of years when the hotels that are in planning are built.

A quicker solution would be to focus on the vast amount of vacant properties located around Dublin. With around 15,000-20,000 homes, it could easily help out the current shortage situation instead of blaming Airbnb, which could only help about 550 families find a home.

A solution proposed by Mark Paul, is for policymakers to make regulations if necessary like standards and outlets for neighbors to complain. Other than that, let the company proceed with business. Paul believes the shortage is actually caused by a broken planning system within the country. The only option to fix this is not point fingers but build around 40,000 homes a year to solve the crisis.

With opinions and views on both sides of this issue, it is hard to know whether Airbnb is guilty or not. Airbnb is new trend among young travelers to get a ‘living like a local’ feel while travelling to different cities. It may have inadvertently caused a shortage of housing but not to the extent of criticism it has received.

With reference to Time to stop scapegoating Airbnb and start building houses by Mark Paul in the Irish Times and Venice Fights Back by Feargus O’Sullivan in CityLab.

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