Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The number of Airbnb properties in Mayo is contributing to the worsening housing crisis in the county, it has been claimed.

Last Thursday, there were 18 houses for long-term in the whole of Mayo on the property website, while there are 251 properties listed on Airbnb in Westport alone. There are 22 Airbnb properties listed in Ballina and 25 in Castlebar.

According to the Airbnb website, there are more than 300 properties in Mayo for short-term let, but that does not provide a true picture as the filter settings do not go beyond 300, so there could be a lot more.

Founded in San Francisco in 2008, Airbnb has been criticised for driving up housing rents and creating nuisances for people living near short-term lets.

While he does not blame landlords for going the Airbnb route, Westport-based councillor Peter Flynn says it is a major problem.

“The average household is about three-and-a-half people per house, so you’re talking about the best part of 1,000 people in Westport that should be long-term lets but are in short-term with Airbnb.

“The big problem is the tax and utility systems that we operate for long-term letting. If you own a house or apartment, from a financial point of view, the smart option is Airbnb because you make good money, and it’s taxed at a normal source of income. Whereas if you go long-term letting, it’s taxed at the high tax rate automatically and a lot of expenses are not tax-deductible. So the system is completely twisted.

“I know so many places that were long-term letting but have switched to Airbnb and as an accountant, I would be recommending people to do that, but with my councillor hat on, I can see the damage it is causing to our towns.”

Cllr Flynn says the noisiness from Airbnb properties, particularly on weekends, may also have knock-on effects.

“You could be forcing people to move out of town centres because of the noise. If you lose people out of the centre of your town, then you’re losing the soul of it,” he added.

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