Long getaways may get shorter now

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 03 Apr 2019

PETALING JAYA: If you’re thin­k­ing of booking an Airbnb property in the country for a long getaway, your break might be cut short with a proposed limit on rental days.

Short-term accommodations (STA) in Malaysia will soon only be allowed to operate for a maximum of between 90 and 180 days in a year.

There is currently no rental day limit imposed on STA operators, said regulatory sources.

The proposal, along with a revision of existing laws to regulate STA will be implemented next year if a proposal by the Malaysia Produc­tivity Corporation (MPC) is accepted by the government.

MPC, a statutory body under the International Trade and Industry Ministry, has held discussions with key industry stakeholders since July last year.

It will submit a regulatory framework to the government by the end of this month.

Malaysia Association of Hotels chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said a limit would counter the negative effects of home-sharing on pro­perty demand and value.

“The home-sharing model existed in the first place as a part-time activity and income for home owners, with the concept of ‘staying with your host’.

“But these days, investors are moving into the model purely for commercial interests. This displa­ces genuine home owners from ci­­ties where real estate prices are on the rise caused by home-sharing businesses,” he said.

He said an amendment to current laws was also vital to prevent STA operators from taking advantage of loopholes in existing regulations.

The arrival of Airbnb in Malaysia and its subsequent boom has brought new income to property owners.

In 2017, Airbnb hosts contributed RM200.4mil to the local economy, said Airbnb public policy head (South-East Asia) Mich Goh.

Jordan Oon, the founder of HostAStay – a local startup that connects home owners to property management companies – said regulation would keep the number of STA operators in check and reduce unnecessary price wars for hosts.

Malaysia Budget Hotel Associa­tion president P.K. Leong said home­­­­owners should only rent out rooms instead of the entire unit.

“More importantly, they must only operate in buildings with commercial titles and not residential properties,” he said, adding that a proper tax system should also be introduced.

“We can’t stop people from earning an income but it has to be fair to all.

“STA must be subjected to all taxes that are imposed on licensed hotels and accommodations.”

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said STA could be an alternative source of accommodations during Visit Malaysia 2020.

“Platforms like Airbnb serve their purpose, especially during peak seasons or when there is a lack of rooms during major events in the town or city.

“It enables genuine homeowners to make a side income,” he said.

Tan added that stringent regulation would protect tourists as well as the local community.

“Regulation of the home-sharing industry will ensure that our hospitality sector meets tourist expectations, thus ensuring a quality stay in our country,” he said.

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