Airbnb is a website that enablespeople to list short term rental accommodation in residential properties. Useof this and other similar websites have become increasingly popular in Ireland.
A recent English case highlightsthat even if a lease does not restrict short term letting, permitting Airbnbstyle short term lettings might breach other lease terms. In that case theowner of an apartment in a purpose built apartment block was held to be inbreach of her lease by advertising the availability of her apartment for shortterm lettings and granting a series of such lettings.
The lease contained a restriction onsub-letting in the last seven years of the term. With just over 80 years leftto run on the lease this restriction did not apply at the time. However theowner was held to be in breach of her covenant to use the premises as “aprivate residence”. It was decided that in order for a property to be used asthe occupier’s private residence there must be a degree of permanence goingbeyond being there for a weekend or a few nights in the week. The Court statedthat whether other tenants with a similar covenant would be found to be inbreach would depend on the construction of the particular covenant in its ownfactual context. This case highlights the importance of looking at all leasecovenants and not just those relating to rights tosub-let.
The issue is clearly under thespotlight in Ireland too. Recent media reports indicate that residents ofvarious apartment complexes are being advised that short term lets such asthose offered on Airbnb are contrary to their leases; and the Planning Laws arealso being employed. Recently An Bord Pleanála agreed with the Temple BarResidents’ Association that the use of an apartment at Crown Alley, Dublin 2for Airbnb lettings required planning permission. In that particular instancethe Board reasoned that because of the high turnover of visitors, the attendantsecurity risk, support activities (such as cleaning staff) to service thelettings and lack of a resident host distinguished the apartment’s usesufficiently from the residential use of the rest of the block and impactedsufficiently on the amenity of the other residents as to amount to “materialchange of use”.