South Belfast SDLP councillor Gary McKeown has called for robust regulation and licensing of AirBnBs and short-term lets to protect communities from antisocial behaviour and imbalance in housing use. Cllr McKeown will bring a motion before Belfast City Council this Monday on the issue.
Cllr. McKeown said:
“The unregulated proliferation of AirBnBs and similar short-term lets in Belfast is having a serious impact on communities, particularly those close to the city centre. As it stands, there is virtually no regulation, meaning that this type of let can pop up with no local consultation or consideration of community impact.
“Residents who live next to many of these properties don’t know from week to week who will be staying next door, and often have deal with noisy parties taking place until the early hours of the morning, yet there’s nothing that can be done as those responsible are gone by the next day. This is no way for residents to have to live. I also have real concern that in the communities that are worst affected, we are seeing a reduction in housing which is available for long-term tenancies or owner occupation as more and more properties are flipped to short-term lets. This is making it harder for people to rent or buy homes in these areas, and pushing up the cost of both.
“The gutting out of the heart of communities coupled with associated antisocial behaviour could lead to neighbourhoods being decimated in parts of our city. I appreciate that there are people who run individual short-term lets appropriately with permissions in place but we fundamentally need arrangements in place that regulate the entire system and ensure it is fit for purpose, taking into account housing supply and diversity.
“It is essential that we deal with this issue now and put a robust system in place to manage it. We don’t want to look back in 10-15 years and regret inaction. We have seen what has happened with HMOs in the Holylands, so we need to avoid a repeat where we get beyond the point of no return.”