Tenants across Cork are being squeezed by the rise of short-term lets replacing long-term rental accommodation, while the existing regulations around short term lets are not fully enforced, according to a tenants’ rights group.
A snapshot of comparisons between housing website Daft.ie and holiday rental outfit Airbnb, regularly shows the numbers of private rooms to rent for short-term holiday lets, far exceeds those apartments and rooms to rent on the market for longer term tenancies.
On Thursday, there were 32 properties to rent in Cork city versus 147 homes to rent in Cork on Airbnb.
The situation is mirrored across the smaller towns: Kinsale had 57 homes to let on Airbnb on one day this week, versus two properties to rent on Daft.ie. It was a similar picture for Cobh, with one property to rent on Daft, versus 53 homes to let on Airbnb.
There is little enforcement of the existing Airbnb regulations, according to Nora Labo, Community Action Tenants Union (CATU) Regional Organiser for Munster.
“One of our active local members in the Cork branch, who was evicted a few years, has now seen the place he used to live in, advertised now on Airbnb at double the price what he was paying in rent,” said Ms Labo.
The landlord had wanted to rent the property out for the Jazz Weekend two years ago. The evicted person checks the property from time to time, and the property has now become a short-term let, she said.
“It’s happening to loads of properties. At CATU, we have two national campaigns. One of these campaigns is to oppose luxury and holiday developments that take the place of housing.”
The Cork branch of CATU is concerned that planning permission has been granted in a city centre location for over 100 aparthotel units.
CATU is a mutual support group that takes action on behalf of its members, which works like a union. Members join CATU, make decisions together, and they organise around a case involving one or more of its members. If a whole building was being evicted, CATU might recruit members from that building, and take decisions with other local members on how to formulate a response, explained Ms Labo.
There are more than 9,000 people waiting on the housing waiting list in Cork at present. All of Cork is a rent pressure zone, so rents can only go up 2 per cent per year. Statistics show that rents have risen by up to 16 per cent since last year in Cork.
“There is huge price inflation,” said Ms Labo.
“The law says that not only on your own contract can the rent go up 2 per cent every year, it is also compared to the previous person who has lived there. But who will compare it? The new tenant cannot know what the rent was previously in the dwelling where they lived.”
Last year, CATU organised a campaign where, when a member moved out, they sent a postcard to their previous address, asking the new tenant what the new rent was, documenting the price increases.
“It should be the authorities who enforce this,” said Ms Labo. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) does not keep such records, so rents can end up “going up and up and up.”
CATU has also seen situations where, in order to avoid eviction, tenants also accept rent increases far above what the regulations permit.