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Penang plans to regulate short-term rentals, homestays

GEORGE TOWN (May 6): Despite recently announcing a ban on short-term rental homes or homestays, the Penang government is still open to the option of regulating the activity.

State Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said for this, many parties such as the Ministry of Tourism, Art and Cultural (Motac), the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and local councils would need to be involved.

He said short-term rental homes or homestays have created unfair competition for licensed hotels that abide by Motac’s regulations, including by paying taxes and hotel fees.

"We will discuss with all the Ministries and agencies involved to set up new rules and regulations to regulate short-term rental homes or homestays in the state," he told reporters after launching the "High Fun Penang Project", an initiative to stimulate Penang tourism's industry here on Thursday.

Last month, State Housing, Local Government, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo announced that the State had agreed to not allow "check-ins" at landed and high-rise buildings for short-term rental homes or homestays, based on numerous complaints from residents’ groups at apartments, condominiums and residential neighborhoods.

However, Yeoh explained that the ban will solely be imposed on high-rise buildings with residential titles, which prohibits owners from renting out on a short-term basis.

He said Penang intended to ban something like Airbnb, an online marketplace for lodging, in which apartment or condominium units are rented out on a short-term basis to tourists.

Yeoh said the ban will not apply to kampung-style homestays as it is also allowed by Motac as a tourism product, adding the State government has yet to decide when the ban will take effect.

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