THOSE searching for homestays these days are not only looking for a roof over their head, some are on the lookout for safe havens to consume designer drugs.
With websites and social media facilitating rental of short-term accommodation, homestay operators in the Klang Valley are enjoying brisk business leasing their units for stays, events, parties and more sinister purposes.
Those familiar with the urban drug scene say homestay units are becoming “breeding grounds” for drug addicts.
Dr Mahmud Mazlan, who runs clinics specialising in the treatment of drug addicts, raised concerns over rave parties held at homestay units where drugs were consumed.
He said lodging websites further boosted the trend, and this was one of the reasons why designer drugs spread so widely in recent years.
“Messaging apps are now being used to send out invitations to these rave parties.
“Syndicates used to organise parties by renting suitable venues and blasting out the invitations.
“Nowadays, partygoers themselves organise these rave events because it is easier to do,” he told StarMetro.
Dr Mahmud said organisers of these parties would rent bungalows in suburban areas, away from prying eyes, adding that this trend has spread out to more housing estates as demand increased.
Rawang and Klang are among the preferred areas.
He was informed that the current rate was RM120 per person for entrance fee and two drinks, with drugs costing extra.
Worryingly, the partygoers who are in their late teens or early 20s, tell their unsuspecting parents that they are spending the night at a friend’s house.
Dr Mahmud said Erimin-5 was the most common drug at these parties. It costs between RM20 and RM25 per tablet, and is considered affordable by youngsters.
Ecstasy (RM60-RM80) is also common, while the more expensive “Mango” which costs RM200 per sachet, is gaining popularity for its stronger effect as the euphoria users experience can last longer.
Dr Mahmud warned that the use of “Mango”, a type of synthetic cannabinoid normally disguised as a powdered cordial mix, was likely to cause cardiovascular collapse and had even resulted in fatalities.
Residents staying in the Templer Villas neighbourhood in Rawang have been suffering from the adverse effects of rave parties over the past three years.
“We hear youngsters screaming and blasting techno music, partying all night long at homestay units here.
“Business is good for the houseowner as the units are fully occupied on weekends and public holidays, and quite often on weekdays too,” said Templer Park Residents Association (RA) secretary Vija Manikam. She said five houses in the guarded residential area of about 40 homes were regularly rented out for parties, leading to traffic issues and noise pollution.
“Even though we limit the number of cars allowed per unit to six at a time, often there are more than 15 cars and sometimes even a busload of youngsters!”
“They fought with our security guards who tried to stop them and were drunk and disorderly.
“Residents are concerned as we don’t know who these people are,” she added.
Vija said the association reported the matter to the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS).
Residents had also called the police when the partygoers got too rowdy, but they would resume their activities as soon as the police left.
Vika said a nearby housing estate also faced a similar problem as more houseowners got into the lucrative homestay business.
Resident C. J. Tan, whose unit is flanked by two homestay businesses, claimed his daughter had seen girls in a state of undress at the parties.
He said the youths would party until the early hours of the morning.
Tan said he had spoken to the owners about the visitors bad uninhibited behaviour but they had not taken any action.
Suzy Ng, who is an immediate neighbour of one of the homestay units used for the rave parties, said she had never met the houseowner although she has lived in the neighbourhood for 11 years.
“I have an ailing mother-in-law and three schoolgoing grandchildren, and we have to put up with loud noise almost every day. It is torturous.”
She said the homestay almost caught fire once as the guests forgot to turn off the stove before they left.
“These house owners are running commercial activities here, and are profiting at the expense of their neighbours.
“How can the local authorities allow this in a residential area?”
RA vice-president Lau Swee Hock said it was heartbreaking to be living next door to such places as ironically, they had bought the houses for the area’s tranquillity.
“Now, whenever I come home, I feel stressed,” he said.
“When I asked the partygoers to control the volume, they replied: “I have paid so much, why can’t I make noise?”
MPS corporate affairs deputy director Ahmad Fauzi Ishak said the council did not issue any licence permitting houseowners to operate homestays.
“The council will slap warning notices on houseowners for creating a disturbance.
“However, it is difficult for the council to act on people inside the house as they claim to be guests of the houseowner,” he said, adding that stopping an activity inside a private property is beyond the council’s jurisdiction.
Selangor Narcotics CID chief Asst Comm Amarjit Singh Cher Singh said police carried out several raids on such parties following public tip-offs.
“We will continue with our efforts to curb this problem and we welcome any information.”