It’s without a doubt that travelling has been made a lot easier, especially when it comes to finding value accommodations wherever you go. The service though has come under fire in certain countries and even banned due to it circumventing housing regulations. Now it looks like Malaysia, or at least one State in Malaysia has followed suit.
The Sabah state government has made it clear today that it is against the law to lease their property via Airbnb. According to a report in the News Straits Times, Assistant Sabah Tourism,
Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said that the government had to take action to prevent people from taking advantage of the influx of tourists, especially at the state capital.
“Airbnb is (considered) a business, but if an apartment is built as residential property, it cannot be used for commercial purposes,” said Pang.
Another reason given was the safety aspect as commercial hotels do have to follow strict safety protocols in order to operate.
“For hotels, they have to comply with the requirements, such as to have water sprinkler systems and emergency lifts according to fire safety regulations,” Datuk Pang added.
While the news that Airbnb has been banned is pretty recent, the laws that caused the ban isn’t new. Earlier in the month, a report from The Borneo Post had clarified the law that affected the ban.
According to the report, Sabah Law Society lawyer Christopher Chin said that Airbnb is a commercial activity due to the following characteristics; short-term use, the absence of exclusive possession, housekeeping services and the that it is subject to the Innkeepers’ Ordinance.
As such to qualify as an Airbnb, a building has to be designed for commercial use under the Development Plan (DP). This would include various safety measures, all of which hotels have, but most residential buildings don’t.
As a result of these guidelines and the fact that many residential units that operate as Airbnbs don’t meet them, the service has to be banned at least for the moment.
However, it isn’t necessarily going to remain so. There is still a chance Airbnb will be made legal again as according to Sally Edward Ghani from DBKK’s Building Plan Section, City Hall will be looking at ways to set guidelines for Airbnb to operate in the state.
However, how long that will take or when those guidelines will be done were not set. So for those of you headed to Sabah, especially Kota Kinabalu, looks like you’ll have to get your accommodation the regular way, through a hotel.