Penang Island [Unsplash]

Malaysia consults on potential nationwide regulations

Malaysia: Malaysia could become the first country in Southeast Asia to implement nationwide restrictions on Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms, shortly after the island of Penang announced that it was imposing a partial ban on short-term rental operations.

Despite ongoing discussions over the regulation of short-term rentals in the country for a number of years, the ruling by the Penang government in May that all private residential properties will be banned from listing on booking platforms like Airbnb has accelerated conversations about wider rental restrictions and given added gravitas to neighbour complaints about noise and anti-social behaviour.

The new rules would require short-term rental hosts to register with the Malaysian government and to obtain short-term rental licences, as well as complying with safety and quality standards, including providing emergency contact information and maintaining relevant insurance coverage.

The rules in Malaysia, which will not apply to extended-stay properties and serviced apartments, are looking increasingly likely to come into effect on 1 March next year.

In response, Airbnb has warned that any restrictions on the short-term rental industry would have a detrimental impact on Malaysia’s tourism sector.

Speaking at a press briefing in Kuala Lumpur, Mich Goh, head of public policy for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan at Airbnb, called for balanced regulations in place of a potential nationwide ban: “It is critical that short-term rental accommodation is regulated in a balanced and effective way that enables, instead of restricting, Malaysia’s long-term tourism growth.”

Furthermore, Goh urged the government to apply a “three strikes law” that will put hosts on an exclusion register and forbid them from hosting again if they have reports of an act of noise or nuisance against them three times. She said that the law is currently being implemented successfully in California in the United States and New South Wales in Australia.

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