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Penang bans Airbnb and other short-term rentals

Penang Bans Short-term rentals

The Penang state government took decisive action on May 25, imposing a ban on almost all forms of short-stay accommodation in residential units throughout the island, including Airbnb. The move makes Penang the first state in Malaysia and the first tourist hotspot in Southeast Asia to take such measures. The primary goal of the ban, according to State Housing Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo, is to regulate the behaviour of tourists who have been causing disturbances and inconveniences for local residents.

New Regulations

Under the new regulations, only commercial properties such as serviced apartments and certain office categories are allowed to host short-term guests. However, they must register, pay annual fees, and obtain approval from 75% of other residents in their building. Additionally, guests can only stay in approved commercial rental units for a maximum of three days per booking. End each unit can be used for no more than 180 days per year. Violating these regulations will result in a modest fine of 200 ringgit (US$44).

The decision-makers in Penang remained firm despite efforts from local Airbnb representatives to dissuade them. Airbnb, which lists over 1,000 properties in Penang, had appealed in February for a review of the new guidelines, but their request was unsuccessful. The platform argued that the regulations would severely restrict Malaysians’ ability to share their homes in strata buildings. And limit the variety of affordable accommodation options for domestic and international travellers.

Why was it implemented?

The ban on short-stay accommodation is seen as a response to complaints about poorly-behaved tourists. Condominium and shared property residents have long been bothered by the disruptive behaviour of short-term rental guests. Signs discouraging such rentals were already common in these buildings before the government took action.

The state government’s decision is supported by some residents who have experienced the negative consequences of unregulated short-term rentals. Joyce Chu, a resident of I-Santorini, a high-density residential block, mentions instances of noisy and disrespectful guests. Causing disturbances and inconveniences for long-term residents. Chu had to take measures such as installing digital locks and CCTV cameras to ensure her family’s safety and security.

Tatiana Breger, an Australian teacher, also faced problems with guests staying in an Airbnb-listed property. She supports the government’s ban, stating that things have calmed down thanks to the new law. Currently, the ban only applies to Penang Island and not Seberang Perai, the mainland part of Penang state. However, it is expected that the ban will eventually cover the entire state.

Isaac Raj, the CEO of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), commends Penang’s move to regulate short-term rentals. He believes that other MAH chapters in each Malaysian state should follow suit. Raj argues that this regulation will bring much-needed revenue to hotels. Which have been grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic and rising operating costs. He also highlights that the government will benefit from a larger tax collection base.

Overall, the ban on short-stay accommodation in Penang aims to regulate the behaviour of tourists, address the concerns of local residents, and provide a boost to the hotel industry. The move is seen as a step towards ensuring a more harmonious and controlled tourism environment on the island.

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