‘Airbnb considered legal’

PETALING JAYA: The Government has endorsed home-sharing service Airbnb, saying it is legal as long as there is no foul play.

The Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry said this in response to claims from the hotel industry that such services were illegal as homeowners were renting out properties to tourists for business.

“Due to the nature of travellers drawn to cheap prices and the personal agreement made between the host and the traveller, Airbnb is considered legal.

“This is as long as no foul play or fraud is involved or intended, such as in cases of Internet scams,” the ministry’s policy and inspectorate division told Sunday Star.

While there have been complaints from hotels on the emergence of home-sharing platforms, such issues have been discussed by various government agencies including the ministry, Tourism and Culture Ministry, the Malaysia Productivity Corp­oration and police.

For now, both ministries have no plans to draft any new law on the matter. There are also currently no plans to issue any licences, like those granted to hotels, for Airbnb hosts.

“The Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry has no authority to block Airbnb or to allow it to operate “The transaction and agreement made between the host and the traveller is done online,” said the ministry.

On disturbances caused by Airbnb guests to other residents in the property, the ministry said such matters should be settled between the Airbnb host and the neighbours involved.

“However, if foul play is suspected, neighbours should lodge a report with the relevant authorities including the police, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consu­merism Ministry, Malaysian Comm­unications and Multimedia Comm­ission and Department of Islamic Affairs,” it said.

It was reported that the local hotel industry claimed home-sharing services like Airbnb were eating into their business with some estimating about 5% to 15% of their business being diverted.

Hoteliers also alleged that consumers were not fully protected under such arrangements.

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