Malaysia is close to becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to impose widespread restrictions on short-stay rentals like Airbnb. This is after one of its most popular holiday hotspots regulated such accommodation due to unruly tourists.
The country has been looking into regulating short-term rentals for several years due to complaints about rowdy tourists behaving badly in residential areas. The discussion has gained renewed incentive in recent weeks, after the island of Penang slapped a partial ban on Airbnb and similar services.
The rules, which will still allow serviced apartments, are due to come into force on March 1, 2024.
“While Malaysia is one of several countries that Airbnb is in discussions with, it is the closest to the finishing line,” Mich Goh, the company’s head of public policy for Southeast Asia, India and Taiwan, said at a briefing Tuesday, June 20.
Airbnb has called for balanced regulations rather than outright bans, by highlighting the contribution short-term rentals make to local economies.
In a survey commissioned by Airbnb, 82% of Malaysians said Airbnb allows locals to generate additional income. 67% said renting through the platform has a positive impact on their community.
Kuala Lumpur was Airbnb’s most visited city in South-East Asia last year and one of the most searched destinations worldwide.