Airbnb: Proposed short-term accommodation guidelines need to be considered carefully

  • Nation
  • Monday, 16 Dec 2019

Mich Goh, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia

PETALING JAYA: The proposed draft guidelines for the short-term accommodation (STA) regulatory framework should be considered carefully, says Airbnb public policy head (South-East Asia) Mich Goh (pic).

She said the move - especially the cap on rental nights and the multi-step registration process - would be detrimental to local families and businesses relying on guests staying in short-term accommodations.

She added that it could have a negative domino effect on the nation's economy ahead of a possible global recession.

"The proposed STA nightcap does not address the very real property overhang and oversupply crisis in Malaysia which has led to the struggles of many middle-class Malaysians to date," said Goh in a statement.

Under the guidelines, people can only stay in such a property for a maximum period ranging between 90 to 180 days over a 12-month period.

Additionally, owners of STA properties will also be required to report periodically to the Arts, Tourism and Culture Ministry to affirm that they have exercised reasonable care to verify that the licensed host and agent utilising their service are complying with the accommodation cap.

She said STAs have become an economic lifeline for so many local families through hosting communities such as the Kuala Lumpur Home Sharing Club.

"Many hosts were struggling to make their home loan repayments or pay the bills but have managed to tide themselves through by hosting," said Goh.

She added that it is important that the government does not make it harder for locals to earn extra income, especially in light of reports showing that more Malaysians are predicted to default on their mortgage in the second half of 2019.

“If the government wants to ensure prosperity is shared by all Malaysians - not just those in big cities - it should introduce clear and sensible STA rules," said Goh.

On registration, Goh said that the foundation of any new framework should be a simple, online and national-level registration system that streamlines processes and encourages the highest levels of compliance.

"With the right rules, STAs and hotels can not only coexist but thrive and give travellers a greater choice of experiences and accommodation,” added Goh.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said while the nightcap is seen as a move to protect hotels, he believes that this is in place to protect the very essence of the “home-sharing” model where guests are to share the homes of the hosts.

He explained why a cap on the nights STA properties can be rented out would be beneficial.

"The current popular practise of renting out empty homes for money is entirely a business-driven model; many are even operating multiple units and acting as agents. This is not home-sharing. A cap is needed to protect the people, protect the property market and also the very essence of home-sharing such as Airbnb," he said.

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