Friday, February 2nd, 2024 08:00 | By
All operators of short-term rental properties including those under Airbnb will now be required to register with the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) in a new policy directive.
A joint statement by the ministries of Interior, Gender, Education and Tourism said the mandatory registration requirement by February 5, 2024, is in response to the murders that have been carried out in short-term rentals.
The statement was signed by Interior Principal Secretary, Raymond Omollo alongside his colleagues Anne Wang’ombe (Gender and Affirmative Action), Beatrice Inyangala (Higher Education and Research), as well as John Ololtuaa (Tourism).
The PSs noted that the move is one of various measures intended to address the recent surge in femicide cases on the said properties. “Effective immediately, all operators of start-term accommodation rentals, including Airbnbs, are required to register with the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA),” read the statement.
Security for guests
“This registration process is designed to ensure that all accommodations meet the highest standards of safety and security for guests.” The PSs further decreed that effective February 5, 2024, National Government Administrative Officers (NGAOs) will work in tandem with TRA to ensure that Airbnb and lodging owners adhere to the aforesaid directive.
The new directive is expected to bolster the sector’s reputation for safety and quality. The registration process includes a one-time application fee of Sh1,000 and an annual license fee of Sh26,000 per unit.
Operators must also provide a completed application form, the original deposit slip for application and license fees, tariff or rack rates, and a copy of the title deed or lease agreement for the premises.
Additional requirements include a certificate of good conduct for the director(s) or proprietors, an entry permit for all non-Kenyan employees, and an affidavit for non-residents. Foreign-owned companies must have an asset base of Sh10 million.
The PSs noted that the TRA, in partnership with NGAOs will conduct inspections of registered properties to ensure compliance and maintain safety standards.
“Resident Associations are encouraged to work closely with law enforcement agencies for effective enforcement. This includes sharing Information, Joint inspections, and coordinated responses to any safety standard violations.”
Security guards are now legally required to record the identification details of all individuals entering the premises, document their entry and exit times, and temporarily retain all visitor identification documents. These measures also mandate the installation of CCTV surveillance systems, ensuring that Airbnb hosts comply with security standards and regulations.
However, some Airbnb operators have expressed concerns over the cost and feasibility of these requirements, as well as the potential invasion of privacy for their guests. They argue that Airbnb offers a different kind of service than hotels, one that is more personalised and flexible, and that they should not be subjected to the same rules as hotels. On the other hand, some hoteliers have welcomed the new measures, claiming that they will level the playing field and protect the interests of both the consumers and the industry.
The government will also collaborate with booking platforms to limit access to unregistered rentals. The tourism agency said harsh penalties, including fines and license revocation await those who fail to comply. “Late payments for all licenses will attract a penalty of 10 per cent of the applicable license fee for every month delayed,” TRA said.
The new regulations are anticipated to benefit both operators and users of short-term rental accommodations by providing an added layer of security and peace of mind. Kenya’s emerging Airbnb sector is becoming a significant contributor to the tourism sector, offering affordable and diverse options for travelers.
These platforms not only supplement scarce accommodation for local and international visitors, but also allow tourists to enjoy a more customized and immersive travel experience. They can stay in residential areas and interact with the local culture.