- “In Penang, for example, the blanket ban that they proposed is probably a regulation that doesn’t make a lot of sense because there have to be ways in which challenges can be managed without an activity being banned, which is why we are suggesting that the existing Strata Management Act 2013 (SMA2013) be used at a building level to pass bylaws that are suited for the specific buildings instead.”
KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 16): Ahead of the tabling of Budget 2023, Airbnb has reiterated that the Penang government’s proposed guidelines for short-term rental accommodation (STRA) would have an adverse impact on the livelihoods of Malaysian STRA hosts if enacted and enforced this year.
In a media briefing on Thursday (Feb 16), Airbnb head of public policy for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India Mich Goh said that it is not necessary for the state governments or local councils to issue a blanket ban, as buildings already have the necessary mechanisms to pass rules to restrict or manage STRA activities in a way that makes sense for them.
“We think that regulations are helpful because it provides clarity for everyone involved for hosts and guests, but I think regulations that are not well thought through and that don’t solve the root challenges that a community, building, state, or local area is facing will be restrictive from an economic point of view.
“In Penang, for example, the blanket ban that they proposed is probably a regulation that doesn’t make a lot of sense because there have to be ways in which challenges can be managed without an activity being banned, which is why we are suggesting that the existing Strata Management Act 2013 (SMA2013) be used at a building level to pass bylaws that are suited for the specific buildings instead. I think blanket bans are not helpful because it restricts everybody’s ability to conduct the activity when it can be done so in a way that’s responsible for everyone involved,” she said.
Last July, Penang’s state government proposed guidelines to regulate short-term rental activities in strata buildings, including a 180-night cap, three-day-a-week limit on STRA in strata buildings; strictly disallowing STRA for strata buildings with residential titles on Penang Island; and a multi-step registration requiring approvals from both the commissioner of buildings and the building’s joint management body for strata buildings with commercial titles. The proposed guidelines also apply to Malaysians who had purchased units with developers’ assurance that they can carry out commercial activities, including STRA.
Airbnb is thus advocating for a balanced and simple approach to regulate STRA with recommendations, including no cap on booking nights “as this severely limits guest travel and undermine ongoing efforts to promote Penang and Malaysia as a digital nomad hub"; for residential strata buildings to continue using the existing SMA2013 to collectively decide on STRA restrictions with a 75% vote; and for commercial strata buildings to allow STRA by default as the buildings are already zoned for commercial use.
Goh said: “What we’re saying is not that STRA should be allowed free for all in every building, rather that there are already existing governance structures that allow residents of these buildings to make rules. Under SMA2013, residents can come together to vote to disallow STRA, and in the same vein they could pass a bylaw that allows STRA but only up to a cap of, say, four nights a week.
“As a company and as a platform, we also provide quite a few means by which people can report any instances of noise or nuisance,” she added.
According to Goh, 43% of homeowners in Malaysia have considered hosting on Airbnb to take advantage of the travel rebound, based on an online survey conducted by YouGov of 1,057 respondents in Malaysia between Oct 5 and 9 last year.
“Now is a very exciting time as borders have started reopening, and China is a big travel driver for the Asia-Pacific region, so travel intent is very high and the prospects for this industry are very good. We think now is a good time for the government to start looking at the role that STRA can take in fuelling a more inclusive tourism recovery in Malaysia,” Goh said.
“If properly managed, STRA shouldn’t cause noise and nuisance to people who already live in the buildings. We want to find a balance where people are allowed to reap the economic supplemental income benefits of being a host, while making sure that they are not causing any kind of disturbance to the community around them,” she added.