*Cllr Cillian Murphy. 

ALLOWING rural short-term lets to escape new rules in clamping down on Airbnbs has been described as “really flawed” by a West Clare representative.

A provisional agreement has been reached between the European Parliament and European Council which will allow the Department of Tourism to proceed with a clamp down on houses and apartments being rented out on sites such as Airbnb or Booking.com without the appropriate planning permission.

Concerns had been flagged by the EU Commission which prompted Tourism Minister, Catherine Martin (GP) to introduce softer proposals which meant rural properties would not have to abide by the strict rules.

Under the plans, Airbnbs and similar short-term rentals will not have to apply for special planning permission if they are located in areas with a population of less than 5,000.

All short-term rentals will have to be logged onto the new register, which will be overseen by Fáilte Ireland.

Local authorities will be able to keep an eye on which properties have the correct planning permission and clamp down on the ones who do not.

The softening of rules for rural properties will form part of new planning guidelines to be published by the end of this year or early next year, under which the Government hopes to put 12,000 properties back into the long-term rental market.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the Rural Development Strategic Policy Committee (SPC), Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) highlighted that planning would not be required for areas with populations less than 5,000 people for short-term lets as a result. “I think that is very flawed and it has a huge challenge for coastal communities”.

Cllr Murphy added, “It is something we need to flag as an SPC and do some research into it, it is a real challenge for coastal communities, 5,000 is an arbitrary number”. The Kilkee representative labelled it as “a really flawed principle”.

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