GEORGE TOWN: Amidst calls by hotels that the Government regulates homestay services, home-sharing hosts themselves want to be legally recognised as a “new-age” form of accommodation providers.
But they refuse to be governed by laws that regulate hotels and want new laws and licensing for home sharing.
“We call on home-sharing hosts from around the country to contact us. We must unite because local authorities are judging us the wrong way,” said home-share host Ch’ng Kim Teck, 50.
These hosts could contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, he said.
The Star reported yesterday that home-sharing services like Airbnb are gaining traction in Malaysia.
Ch’ng is one of four such hosts believed to be the first in the country to be fined by a local government last Monday for operating lodging businesses without licences.
He said they refused to pay the RM250 fines issued by Penang Island City Council because they feel that the wrong law was applied on them.
“We are not hotels or homestays. There is no law to specify that we cannot rent our homes out for a few days or months,” said Ch’ng.
Their case, he said, was like “a cyclist on the road fined for not having a road tax and licence.”
He said Penang’s home-share hosts would form an action group and recommend by-laws to regulate them.
This group, he said, would be registered as a trade association to represent registered home-share operators.
Ahmad Hamzah, 55, who was also fined, said: “There are hundreds of home-sharing hosts in Penang. Yet, only the four of us were singled out and penalised.”
“We hope the council will be open-minded about a global sharing economy created by the Internet and not use old world by-laws for hotels and businesses on us.”
Ahmad, who was the general manager of a hotel before retiring, said home-sharing created an attractive layer to Penang’s tourism sector.
“Instead of putting up in hotels, our visitors come to live and eat among Penangites.”
“The joy I feel in serving my guests is one I never felt before in all my years as a hotelier. As a host, I can make our visitors feel at home in Penang while being rewarded for my efforts.”
He said that his guests were not allowed to use his home to hold parties, workshops or conferences.
“I rent my place out as a residence. And I have a set of rules that they must accept online before I agree to rent to them. I will share my guidelines with the city council as a draft for laws to govern us.”