Fighting an uphill battle, Airbnb has warned of a “lose-lose situation” for Hong Kong’s tourism sector and homeowners if a tough amendment bill against illegal short-term rentals and unauthorised guest houses is eventually passed into law.
The leading home-sharing platform made the warning on Tuesday as the Home Affairs Bureau was due to table an amendment bill to the Legislative Council on Wednesday for first and second readings.
Under the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation (Amendment) Bill, the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Authority would be empowered to crack down on short-term home rentals and unlicensed hotels and guest houses.
Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing argued that Hong Kong was not suitable for running home-sharing businesses due to the densely-populated environment. “For short-term rentals, the flats need to be installed with fire safety and security devices. These things are not easy as the premises owners need the approval of other owners living in the same building. Home-sharing will create neighbourhood nuisance and safety issues,” he said.
“In fact, the Office of Licensing Authority under the Home Affairs Department has always adopted a flexible and pragmatic approach in processing licence applications, and will specify safety requirements taking into account the scale of operation and the type of premises,” he added.
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