New letting laws will not change housing crisis in city

Extra resources needed if new short term laws are to be successful says COPE Galway

New short term letting regulations without additional resources for the Galway City Council to enforce them will not produce positive results for the housing situation in Galway city, according to assistant CEO of COPE Galway, Martin O'Connor.

Mr O'Connor's comments come after new laws regarding home-sharing on platforms such as AirBnB came into effect on Monday.

"The local authority needs to be better resourced if [the new regulations] have any prospect of helping [the housing situation in Galway city],” he said. “The local authority has been given the legislation to act on [short term letting], it now needs central Government to give them additional resources to be able to act on the legislation.

"The Galway City Council needs feet on the ground for enforcement to have an effect. Without extra feet on the ground, change [in the housing situation in the city] is going to be a slow burner."

The regulations, which were introduced by the Government in early April, mean rental homes will no longer be available for short term letting, except with planning permission. Home-sharing on platforms such as AirBnB, will only be allowed where a house is a person’s primary residence inside designated rent pressure zones.

Labour councillor Niall McNelis echoed Mr O'Connor's sentiments, hitting out at Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and the Department for failing to provide resources to Galway City Council for extra manpower to implement the new regulations around short term lets.

Cllr McNelis said: “The new regulations on short term lets took effect on July 1. Yet the Department of Housing has provided the Galway City Council with no additional resources for staff to be tasked with enforcing the new regulations. There is no proposal for the provision of the required staff who need to be hired, trained, and in place.

“Following enquiries I made to the council, I was informed that the Department has not sanctioned additional resources for the hiring of staff and that no recruitment process had begun. Yet these new measures were announced in October 2018. To see that eight months after agreeing to regulate short term lets, in the middle of a housing crisis, the Minister and his Department are still suffering from the same lack of urgency.

“What have Minister Murphy and his officials been doing for the last eight months that they delayed this allocation of resources? Why did the Department not ensure the necessary staffing levels were in place before the beginning of July?”

Social Democrats councillor Owen Hanley said the new regulations was another example of “a continued soft approach” by the Government after new laws regarding home-sharing on platforms such as AirBnB came into effect on Monday.

He said; “Services like AirBnB have had a profound effect on the housing supply of Galway, forcing people out of the city centre or out of Galway completely. Communities are being replaced by tourists and it is unsustainable.

“The new regulations show a continued soft approach by this Government when it comes to the urgency of the housing crisis. For now, I hope city council will use the new regulations to reduce short-term tourist lets like AirBnB from exacerbating the housing crisis while we wait for genuine systemic change.”

A spokesperson for Galway City Council confirmed that as of Tuesday, the local authority had not received any indication whether it was to receive any additional resources to enforce the new regulations, and that there was not a specific team at City Hall to deal with enforcement currently.

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