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Renting an Airbnb in South Africa may change dramatically, due to new laws

Long regarded as a preferred alternative to staying in hotels and guesthouses, Airbnb haven’t managed to win everyone over in South Africa: There have been a few complaints about the way they operate and the Tourism Department have decided to crack the whip.

The billion-rand business faces a sterner set of rules to abide by after the recently-released Tourism Amendment Bill was updated to include “short-term rentals”. This is the banner of which Airbnb fall under, and according to the document, they will now be subject to more “thresholds”.

“Short-term rental means the renting or leasing on a temporary basis (for reward) of a dwelling, or part there of, to a visitor. Thresholds [are to be considered] with regards to short-term rentals”.

Tourism Amendment Bill

Renting an Airbnb in South Africa – what’s likely to change:

More regulation

First and foremost, the bill has been amended to include the likes of Airbnb under its own regulations. The company can expect stricter boundaries to be imposed on how it operates, in order to comply with government law.

How long you can stay for

So the first term that could be considered under these “thresholds” would be the length of time people can stay in one establishment. A City Press report from the weekend indicated that Airbnb rentals were responsible for “stealing business” from hotels and other bed-and-breakfast establishments.

But the market also has some cannibalistic behaviours. A spokesperson for the Tourism Department told BusinessTech that the new regulations could lead to a more “even playing field” for all Airbnb owners:

“If the guy in the Airbnb gets 13 nights, and the guy next door gets nothing, then he knows that he will get his chance when the Airbnb reaches its threshold. Its more about a shared economy rather than trying to regulate a private service.”

Tourism Department

How much can be charged

It’s proposed that upper-limits on the value of a night’s stay could also be introduced. Although Airbnb’s generally provide a cheaper option than many of their competitors, certain properties have been accused of cranking up their prices to extortionate levels.

How much an Airbnb landlord can make

Theoretically, the previous two factors – the length of a stay and what can be charged – could also dictate the annual income of an Airbnb landlord. With the department keen to bring in a “fairer” environment, there’s also a chance that caps could be introduced on certain accommodations.

Airbnb location laws

Finally, another key part of the proposed regulations would be determining where exactly Airbnbs are allowed to set-up. Any attempts to manage the market could include keeping the establishments a certain distance away from each other. Zoning laws may also come into play, keeping Airbnb properties away from hotels, too.

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