GEORGE TOWN: Penang has effectively banned all forms of short-term rental accommodation (STR), such as Airbnb or booking.com stays, at residential units on the island effective immediately.
Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Rajendran Anthony said the ban covered all private residential properties.
It excludes six types of commercial properties — serviced apartments, small office home offices (SoHo), small office flexible offices (SoFo), small office virtual offices (SoVo), office suites and duplex offices.
However, those planning to offer the STRs in the commercial categories must obtain the approval of their respective joint management bodies (JMBs) or management corporations (MCs). They need to obtain a 75% “yes” vote from other residents at an annual general meeting.
Rajendran said JMBs and MCs are then to collect an annual fee ranging from RM250 to RM500 a year per unit, with new registration fees of up to RM250. The unit must also be registered with MBPP and the owner must provide Companies Commission of Malaysia documentation.
Other fees include a one-time security deposit, ranging from RM1,000 to RM3,000 per unit.
Each STR unit is only allowed to be rented for a maximum of 180 days a year and rental is also limited to three days a week.
Rajendran said these new rules meet the Penang government’s STR guidelines issued on April 1, which were approved by MBPP today.
“The enforcement of these guidelines meets existing laws. This has been tested and taken to court before,” he told FMT.
Rajendran said a council by-law concerning STRs would be tabled at the next state assembly sitting, which would ultimately govern rental of commercial units.
The ban does not cover mainland Penang. However, Seberang Perai City Council is expected to also regulate STRs and impose fees, guidelines sighted by FMT and verified by the state government have shown.
In April, Penang housing, local government, town and country planning committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said “check-ins” at landed and high-rise buildings for short-term rental homes would be banned.
This followed numerous complaints from residents’ groups at apartment blocks and condominiums, and in residential neighbourhoods.
Airbnb criticised Penang’s move to impose restrictions, saying it would hurt the state’s economy.