There's a welcome on the mat but some AirBnB operators will have to apply for planning permission. (File image)

Planning permission needed for some Airbnb operators in west Mayo

AIRBNB operators in a large part of west Mayo may have to get planning permission to continue renting out their properties.

The change is a result of the introduction of a new rent pressure zone.

It has been clarified for councillors that the zone is not restricted to Westport - it cover the Westport electoral area, extending to Newport and out to the Louisburgh region.

If a property is a home owner's principle residence they are exempt from planning.

Representatives from planning enforcement with Mayo County Council answered queries from elected members about the implications in a presentation before the monthly meeting of the authority.

The office is currently working through the details of what will be involved. The council will be posting information online soon.

Ms. Tanya Whyte said there are exemptions that apply where a property is a principle residence, or where there was, for example, a property holiday swap.

Councillor Patsy O'Brien said Airbnbs are an important part of the county's tourism offering, and he was concerned about them being put out of business by stringent laws.

There is a lot of concern in Westport, said Councillor Christy Hyland, where there were about 500 short-term lets and, if taken out, there would be an impact on the tourism spend locally.

On the other side, there was a need for properties for people to rent as homes long-term.

They had to find a balance, he said, with properties availabe for letting or else the tourism sector would get a hammering, with no place for people to stay.

Ms. Whyte said there is a lot of work to be done, to see how much short-term letting there is.

Some would be primary residences but there is going to be a cohort who need planning and they will have to apply for a change of use.

The zoning is in place until December 2024 and it will then be reviewed.