AN online community-driven company that connects people looking for accommodations with people who want to lease them said it had worked with 275 governments worldwide recently to develop “clear and sensible frameworks” that support home sharing, while, at the same time, addressing local community needs.
It went on to say that it “had meaningful and productive conversations with the Malaysian authorities, who were excited by the prospect of home sharing and the benefits the company’s platform was already bringing to local tourism”.
A local daily described the company as an online hospitality provider, but I beg to differ.
The hospitality industry encompasses accommodation and food and beverage provided by hotels and restaurants.
This company does not own property to provide such services and is merely an online
broker between mostly private residence owners and guests looking for cheap accommodation.
This online marketplace provides opportunities for millions of owners and entrepreneurs around the world to rent out private rooms, apartments or houses to tourists for short-term stays.
The company cannot claim to have generated RM200 million (as stated by the company in a press release) for the Malaysian economy last year as most of this revenue was taken away from
hotels, which suffered low occupancy.
At best, the company could be given credit for attracting more visitors to Malaysia, as many tourists perceived that costs are much lower at private residences without realising that hotel room rates in Malaysia are relatively low.
No one would object to any owner renting out spare rooms for short-stay guests to defray costs.
But, it is a different ball game altogether when whole apartments or houses are used for this purpose, as the security and safety of the building or neighbourhood would be compromised with strangers entering and leaving unchecked.
The Kuala Lumpur City Hall licensing and petty traders management department states that there are no laws governing the company. It plans to regulate the short-term rental market by 2019, as City Hall had received numerous complaints from the public, mainly from those staying in apartments and condominiums where units were rented out for short-term stays.
Those who make money renting out private residences should collect tourism tax for the Customs Department, and pay income tax to the Department of Inland Revenue, with the cooperation of the company providing the platform.
C. Y. MING
Ampang, Kuala Lumpur