Airbnb seeks to allay negative image

Increasing resistance to home-sharing company from residents and local authorities


HOME-SHARING giant Airbnb plans to engage with relevant parties, including property management companies and local authorities as more long-term condominium and apartment dwellers seek to outlaw the concept in the country.

Airbnb South-East Asia head (public policy) Mich Goh said such an engagement is needed to gather feedback from the relevant parties and to ensure a win-win situation for all quarters.

“We look forward to constructive dialogue in order to develop and implement appropriate frameworks including the tourism tax collection, which would allow homesharing to thrive to Malaysia’s short- and long-term benefits,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) last Friday.

She added that the company also plans to implement the “Friendly Buildings Programme”, which was initiated in the US, with the aim of bringing owners, corporations, landlords and tenants to the table for discussion.

“This is to enable homesharing in their properties under rules which they help to create. These rules would provide more transparency and controls for building committees,” she said.

Under the programme, landlords can choose to receive a profit share from the accommodation fees received by participating hosts, while the building owners can create specific rules, as well as update leases and other agreements.

It was reported that the home-sharing service provider received backlash from unhappy long-term residents who complained about noise and nuisance from tourists or the tenants of Airbnb units.

Airbnb host company Luxury Boutique Accommodation (LBA) founder Andrew Tan said he understands why various complaints have been lodged by the residents.

“Just imagine if your neighbours are the people who keep coming in and out, how would you feel?” he asked.

Tan said some of the tenants had made loud noises and smoked in public areas along the corridor.

“Not only that, our neighbours have also complained about missing shoes and belongings. They suspect the culprits could be the shortterm tenants,” he said, adding that the company has also received complaints over damages afflicted by the tenants.

As for the noise issue, Tan said the company has imposed its own rules.

“We emphasise on house rules such as no loud noise above 80 decibels after midnight.

In fact, we will forfeit the deposit should there be any complaint.

“The same deposit forfeit method has also been implemented against those who smoke in public areas,” he said.

Tan added that LBA has come out with tips folders and posters to educate foreign travellers in its bid to minimise damage at the units and buildings.

“For psychological effect, we have created posters which state the building is being monitored via closed-circuit television cameras.

“We also make photocopies of short-term tenants’ identification documents upon check-in and work with the building’s security for registration,” he said.

Meanwhile, condominium management committees who previously banned the use of this application began to see the good side of Airbnb for its residents.

Desa Putra Condominium management committee chairman Abu Bakar Ariffin said time has changed and the home-sharing concept has become profitable for the property management and Airbnb hosts.

“We plan to revisit the decision in a month’s time during the next AGM in order to create a win-win situation for everyone,” he told TMR.

The condominium has banned any homestay or shortterm vacation rental over the past two years.

Abu Bakar also said many units were left empty and most residents could not afford to pay their mortgages following the ban.

“Once we have agreed on a decision, we hope that the hosts can register with the committee and allow us to charge them a certain fee. In return, we would provide cleaning services, which will rake in money for the committee too,” he added.

TMR recently reported that Airbnb has also offered to collect tourism tax on behalf of its listed members despite no formal decision by the government over the matter.

The company has over 31,900 listings in Malaysia, with a typical host having earned RM5,200, just by renting out their spaces for 18 nights a year.

Over 300 homes are listed on the Airbnb website in Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown in Penang respectively.