By Padraic Halpin
GALWAY, Ireland (Reuters) – Ireland is preparing regulations governing short-term rentals let on homesharing sites like Airbnb similar to those introduced in Toronto, in a bid to ease a severe supply shortage, the country’s housing minister said on Thursday.
Like many countries around the world, Ireland is grappling with the effect that the rising popularity of home sharing is having on tight housing supply, a decade after the spectacular bursting of a housing bubble.
The Toronto city council approved regulations in December that required operators to register with the city, restricted the properties they can rent to their principal residence and banned the listing of income properties.
“If you looked to what is happening in Toronto, you’d have a good idea,” Irish Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who is coming under political pressure over sharply rising homelessness and rental costs, told reporters regarding the planned regulations.
“What we don’t want to see is people removing long-term lets from the market and getting an unfair advantage in an unregulated short-term market,” Murphy said, adding that he hope to bring plans to cabinet very shortly.
Murphy added that while he wanted to get long terms lets back on the market, he did not want people to lose the ability to home share in circumstances like when they go on holidays, rent out a bedroom to help pay the bills or let their homes in rural areas where there are not enough hotels or bed and breakfasts.
The regulations in Toronto, which took effect from June, allow homeowners to list up to three bedrooms within their principal residence, or their entire home when on vacation, for up to a total of 180 days per year.
While Ireland was left with a surplus of houses after a 2008 property crash that halved values, homes have become especially scarce in cities like Dublin as an economy and population that is growing faster than anywhere else in the EU fuels demand.
Just under 8,000 new homes were completed in Ireland in the first six months of the year, up 30 percent year-on-year but still set to fall well short of the 35,000 analysts say are needed annually just to keep up with demand.
(Editing by William Maclean)