Fianna Fáil has called on the Government to consider legislation to set a threshold of earnings for Airbnb customers.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Councillor Cormac Devlin has raised concerns that the crackdown on homeowners who let accommodation through websites like Airbnb will further fuel the accommodation crisis in Dublin.

Cllr Devlin said it’s unreasonable to expect someone who has let out their home for a few days a year to pay heavy tax on the small level of earnings. However he said those using the system to make a substantial income should be liable as they have an unfair advantage over full time B&B owners.

“We need to apply some common sense to this. Airbnb is a relatively new service that is now playing an important role in the tourism sector in Dublin. Most people who use it do so on a once-off or very irregular basis. The prospect of being subjected to income tax and Capital Gains Tax will certainly be a strong deterrent to these short-term holiday lets,” said Cllr Devlin.

“I believe we need a much more flexible rent-a-room scheme that distinguishes between casual home swap arrangements and full-time accommodation businesses. We should be encouraging the availability of a range of tourist accommodation in Dublin at a time when there is clearly an accommodation shortage. Hotels in Dublin are operating at close to capacity. Business travellers report difficulty in finding regular accommodation, while tourists report the high cost of accommodation will influence decisions to return to Ireland. Meanwhile state agencies are struggling to place homeless families in hotels due to lack of capacity and high costs. Given the circumstances we need to use every policy tool available to maintain and increase accommodation availability in the capital.

“The Revenue Commissioners can only implement current legislation, therefore the onus is on the government to intervene. I am calling on the Government to consider setting a threshold below which homeowners who use Airbnb would not be liable to pay income tax and Capital Gains Tax. Those earning above the threshold would be liable, given that they would be in direct competition with B&Bs and hotels if they are regularly letting out their homes to tourists.”