THE NUMBER of Dublin properties used as Airbnb lettings are enough to house every homeless person in the city, a new report has found.
A probe by an independent watchdog, organised by the The Irish Mirror, found that there are over 4,000 Airbnb properties in Dublin alone, compared with the estimated 4,500 people with no permanent accommodation in the county.
This figure includes rough sleepers as well as the 1,103 families living in emergency accommodation such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs.
Pat Doyle, chief of Irish homeless charity the Peter McVerry Trust, said the findings of the investigation was "madness".
"It's madness that in the centre of the city you can have a complex with 100 apartments which is exclusively being used as Airbnb while hotels around the corner are being used for homeless families."
However, Mr Doyle said the current environment is giving Ireland a chance to change this, as many Airbnbs are lying empty due to a lack of tourism to the country: travel data hub AirDNA shows that Dublin bookings dropped by 72% in March and April this year.
"This crisis has given us an opportunity to redress that," he said. "The way this pandemic has fared out, there will be no tourism for the rest of this year at least.
“Now is a time for investors to look at how they can make a contribution and stay viable.
“One way is to give a three to five-year lease to approved housing bodies to provide social housing, giving us the time to build housing projects.”
Under new restrictions implemented by Dublin City Council late last year, landlords are not allowed to use second properties as short-term rentals-- however the investigation shows that many are flouting the measures, according to The Irish Mirror, and there has been just one prosecution under the new measures.
However, when the outlet contacted Airbnb for a quote, they dismissed the Peter McVerry's chief's comments, saying the government is at fault for the lack of suitable accommodation in the city, and denied that most Airbnb hosts were landlord's second properties.
“The vast majority of listings on Airbnb in Dublin are already someone’s home with nearly half of hosts in Ireland saying they rely on the income from hosting to make ends meet," a spokesperson told The Irish Mirror.
“It’s inaccurate and misleading to assume these listings may otherwise be available for a long-term tenant.
“Research from Hooke & MacDonald found there has been no significant change in the availability of private rental accommodation in Dublin over the last 15 months and that in 2019 there were only 2,654 apartments built in Dublin.
“During the coronavirus outbreak, hosts in Ireland have stepped up to generously offer free places to stay for healthcare workers and other frontline medical professionals as part of a global initiative that has seen nearly 200,000 places being made available.”