Is Airbnb Legal in Hong Kong?
Airbnb is a company that exploits share economy to its fullest. The company works by connecting people looking for affordable accommodation with home- owners who wish to increase their income by temporarily renting out the extra space in their houses. The market for Airbnb is ever growing. It is easy to understand why people prefer this company to ordinary hotels and guest- houses when they travel: renting rooms through Airbnb is way cheaper than renting a hotel room. The company has already secured itself a huge customer base in many countries around the world, and is especially thriving in big cities. One such city is Hong Kong.
Although Airbnb is immensely popular, there is still a lot of controversy and legal risk surrounding it. If you want to start renting out your house through Airbnb, there are a lot of things that you need to do in order to protect yourself legally. The bottom line however is that Airbnb is completely legal in Hong Kong, but is regulated by many laws.
What are the regulations that govern Airbnb Transactions?
You should beware that you require a number of permits and licenses before you can become a host with this company. In many cities around the world, carrying out online businesses illegally can be a costly mistake. Familiarize yourself with the laws that govern short- term renting of property before you engage in this business as it will save you a lot of time and energy. Remember that Airbnb is not a scapegoat for commercial property owners who wish to pay less tax or be subjected to lower standards when hosting guests. In case the government finds out that you are applying for the wrong permit in order to avoid taxes, it could be more than costly for you.
Secondly, before you get the required licenses and permits, you will need to satisfy a number of requirements. For instance, you house may need to have corridors of a given width, and it may also have to reach certain health and safety standards. Take your time to read extensively on the requirements you must fulfill before you are allowed to rent your property. This way, you will have an easy time acquiring the permits you want.
You would also be well advised to get an insurance policy for the property you want to rent out, regardless of how briefly you intend to rent it out. This will shield you from losses in case your guests damage your property during their stay. Remember, you can never be too safe.
Additionally, find out as much as you can on the taxes imposed by authorities on those who rent out their houses on a short-term rental basis. Generally, if your guests will stay for a period of less than 28 days, that suffices to be a short- term rental agreement. If you are yourself living in rental property, be sure to enquire from the owner whether sub- leasing is allowed.
The Hong Kong Situation
Currently, the Airbnb market in Hong Kong is thriving. This is partially because there is a hotel room shortage affecting the place. There are also the alluring monetary gains that both guests and hosts have to gain from such a transaction.
That been said however, there are still a number of challenges that face the Airbnb market in Hong Kong. One such challenge is the hostility with which hotel owners and other stakeholders in the industry met the idea of Share economy. There are countless lawsuits that have been brought and continue to be brought against hosts in Hong Kong, but there is little the courts and authorities can do because the cases are overwhelmingly many.
Additionally, there is the hurdle of meeting the required standards for one to become a host. Complying with the required fire safety, health safety and the house dimensions required for one to get licensed by the Licensing Authority under the Home Affairs Department in Hong Kong might be more than the ordinary homeowner can keep up with.
All in all, the Airbnb market in Hong Kong is rather lucrative. So long as you comply with the laid down laws and take care to insure your property, you are good to go. Additionally, the government is not so keen on private residents who decide to rent out their houses through Airbnb as it is with those unscrupulous commercial property owners who want to hide under the Airbnb cover. For more information, be sure to visit the Breezybnb Management website.