Court action warning for Northern Ireland owners of Airbnb properties as number of rentals booms
The number of local properties listed on Airbnb soared in 2018 despite the start of legal action against unlicensed landlords.
Figures compiled by AirDNA, which analyses Airbnb market trends in Belfast, Londonderry and Co Down, found 2,516 properties listed online during December.
It includes 1,552 entire homes and 960 private rooms. The bulk of the properties are located in the Greater Belfast area, which has 898 homes and 545 rooms listed.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where anyone offering overnight accommodation must have certification.
Last year Tourism NI initiated legal action for the first time against two people who advertised their properties on the web-based service as accommodation.
The cases were dropped when the property owners opted to register, an online process that Tourism NI says costs £40.
Airbnb has said the onus remains on local property owners to ensure they are acting within the law.
Tourism NI said: "If it's brought to our attention that someone is operating without certification we will contact them, advise them of the legal requirement and ask them to register for certification.
"In almost every case the property will comply. We have the option to take court action against those who don't.
"This applies to everyone regardless of what marketing platform they use."
Airbnb told the Belfast Telegraph: "We regularly remind hosts to check and follow local rules, and provide guidance about hosting in Northern Ireland to help them on our responsible hosting page."
AirDNA, which also monitors the cumulative number of properties listed here since 2011, highlighted the scale of Airbnb's growth over the past seven years.
As of 2018, there have been 2,644 properties listed in the Belfast area, 61% more than the 1,639 listed the year before. It suggests the Airbnb market in the city is now 25 times the size it was four years ago, when just 105 properties were listed via the online booking service.
AirDNA's analysis also shows that the 1,444 active rentals in the city belong to 765 property owners, with 240 hosts letting out multiple properties in Belfast.
It was a similar story in Derry, which recorded a 63% cumulative rise in Airbnb properties listed on the site over the year, growing from 327 in 2017 to 534 this year. Four years ago it was just 25.
The number of listings in Co Down has increased from 79 to 1,326 over the same four year period.
A total of 770 properties are actively listed on Airbnb, with the biggest concentration in popular seaside locations such as Bangor and Newcastle.
The scale of Airbnb's global growth has prompted moves in some countries to curb its impact on the supply of housing.
Caps have already been introduced in London and Paris limiting the number of days hosts can rent out their properties. In 2016 Berlin banned tourists from renting entire apartments via Airbnb.
The Irish Government has also changed its law. Prompted by a housing shortage, from June this year homeowners in the Republic will be prevented from letting their primary residence on a short-term basis for a maximum of 90 days in a year and up to 14 days at a time.
Number of properties in Belfast, Derry and Co Down actively listed online by Airbnb in December