Namibian Tourism Board Urges Airbnb Properties to Register or Face Jail

PUBLISHED 16 NOV 2017   

The Namibia Tourism Board wants to regulate Airbnb operators within the country. Airbnb is an online startup that offers an international property letting and sharing network, giving visitors the option of renting private homes for the duration of their stay while visiting a Namibia and other countries with listings on the network. But Namibia Tourism Board is crying foul, saying that these establishments need to comply with city regulations and must be regulated to ensure they meet minimum tourism standards. 

 

There have also been complaints by neighbours living next door to homes being rented out due to excessive noise levels, late night partying and even drug use by tenants. However, Airbnb does offer a mechanism to tackle these issues. Disgruntled neighbours who are fed up with any disturbances at properties listed with Airbnb can log onto the company's website and lodge a formal complaint. The company may take action against unauthorized establishments, shutting them down, and also against unruly clients, blocking them from using the services on offer again. This offers both neighbours and homeowners some level of protection against disruptive visitors who disturb the peace or damage the properties they are renting.

Airbnb has four million homes in 191 countries listed on their website. There are currently more than 300 Namibian properties available to rent via the Airbnb website, which penny conscious travelers find appealing due to the associated accommodation cost savings, while other travelers simply prefer the experience of staying in a private home rather than a more formal hotel when visiting the country.

Airbnb offers an easy way for homeowners to generate an income from their properties while they are away from home. People with investment properties or second homes also use the Airbnb portal to earn an extra income from their property investments. In Namibia, most of the properties listed on Airbnb are located in Walvis Bay or Swakopmund, however there are also listings in Windhoek, Aranos, Mariental, Otjiwarongo, Ongwediva and Tsumeb.

The Namibia Tourism Board recently released a statement declaring that no Namibian is permitted to offer accommodation facilities to paying guests without first registering with the Namibia Tourism Board. Failure to comply could result in jail time for the transgressor.

"All persons offering their homes to AirBnB are kindly requested to comply with the Namibian laws and to register such accommodation with the Namibia Tourism Board on or before 31 December 2017. Failure to comply with the provision criminal proceedings will be instituted against such none compliant persons," the Namibia Tourism Board said in a public notice.

"Any person who provides accommodation to a tourist in an accommodation establishment, which is not registered under section 20, commits an offense and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding N$20,000 or to imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both such fine and imprisonment," the Namibia Tourism Board said.

Anyone wishing to run an establishment that offers accommodation needs to apply for registration with the board.

AirBnB itself cautions anyone wishing to list their property on their web portal to comply with the regulatory laws of their country or city before listing the property.

"When deciding whether to become an Airbnb host, it's important for you to understand how the laws work in your city," the company advises on its website.

Airbnb also provides information on potential regulatory laws, licences and permits that property owners may need in order to comply with local laws pertaining to running a bed and breakfast type of accommodation establishment, which differs from country to country and even from city to city. 

Disgruntled neighbours who are fed up with any disturbances at properties listed with Airbnb can log onto the company's website and lodge a formal complaint. The company may take action against unauthorized establishments, shutting them down, and also against unruly clients, blocking them from using the services on offer again. This offers both neighbours and homeowners some level of protection against disruptive visitors who disturb the peace or damage the properties they are renting.