The online platform Airbnb is the main culprit in Inishowen’s chronic housing shortage.
That was the claim made by Councillor Bernard McGuinness at this week’s meeting of the Inishowen Municipal District (MD).
Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects people who want to rent out their homes with people who are looking for accommodations in that locale.
However, Cllr McGuinness said the problems with mica affected homes are being exacerbated by the fact homeowners cannot get an alternative house to rent. This, he said, is due to vacant houses being let to holiday makers.
“There is a serious issue with mica in council-owned houses and some will have to be demolished,” the Fine Gael representative said.
“The main main problem is that there are no houses available to people in this situation to rent or lease, mainly because of Airbnb. This needs to be brought to attention to the Minister. We need to support homeowners in their efforts to rent or lease. I’m inundated with people looking for a house. More than 1,000 houses in Inishowen and Letterkenny are affected by mica, and many will have to leave those houses while they are being repaired or rebuilt.”
Independent Councillor, Nicholas Crossan, agreed. He added that it was ‘virtually impossible’ to get a house on the peninsula.
“Yet, houses on the main streets of Buncrana, Carn, Moville and our other towns are lying empty. These people need incentives from Donegal County Council to make these vacant houses habitable,” Cllr Crossan said.
The council’s Area Manager for Housing, Aideen Doherty, said mica issue takes up a significant amount of the local authority’s time.
“We need to find additional accommodation in Inishowen, but it’s an uphill struggle,” Ms Doherty said.
“The shortage of one and two bedroom houses is an issue nationwide and not just Donegal. We are looking at that.”
Ms Doherty also pointed out that the refurbishment of council houses did not stop during Covid restrictions as this was considered ‘essential works’.