Housing charity Threshold has called on the Government to put a halt to whole properties being rented out through Airbnb and other short term letting agencies. 

The Department of Housing is due to publish a report from a working group on proposals to regulate the sector.

Owners of flats and apartments are required to apply for planning permission to operate as Airbnb hosts since a ruling by An Bord Pleanála in 2016. However, owner occupiers of houses are exempt.

The department guidelines state that apartments and flats should be limited to 60 nights in a year for short term lettings and no more than 5 consecutive nights.

Airbnb has proposed that the government impose a 180 night per year limit to prevent apartments and flats being lost from the permanent housing stock.

The company which appeared before an Oireachtas committee on the issue has said the 'tipping point' that would make short term letting more profitable for a landlord is over 120 nights and in some areas closer to 200.

Airbnb says it would introduce "robust automated systems" similar to those already in force in London and Amsterdam to ensure the 180 night limit.

A property owner would have to apply for permission from the local authority for letting periods in excess of that.  

According to statistics compiled by Airbnb the average 'host' in Dublin had guests for 50 nights a year and earned €4,900.

The company said there were only 550 properties booked for more than 160 nights in 2016  which it says represents one in every thousand housing units.

Airbnb says its guests contributed a total of €273 million to the capital directly and indirectly that year.

However, Threshold points to figures which show landlords being able to earn up to €170,000 a year from Airbnb.

It says the experience from other countries suggests tighter restrictions result in more properties becoming available for long term rental.