Cape Town considers results of 'Airbnb' survey

Category Property News

The deadline for responses to the City of Cape Town's survey on short-term letting/holiday letting closed on Friday.

While the city investigates possible changes to the bylaw regulating short-term letting in line with international standards, mayoral spokeswoman Zara Nicholson, confirmed that the Municipal Planning By-law together with its policies and frameworks, controlled holiday accommodation, especially letting in apartment blocks.

Nicholson said property owners could apply for zoning permission, and people could report contraventions.

Applications for consent of use must be made to Cape Town's Development Management Department while complaints about alleged contraventions in the City Bowl area can be made at the Table Bay office (021 400 644).

Nicholson said the by-law had been drafted before the expansion of the shared economy and technological changes in the tourism and short-term letting sector.

The idea of the survey was to better understand the shared economy and its impact on all residents.

"This will inform a policy and an amendment to the by-law to regulate short-term rentals.

"The city is engaging with multiple stakeholders to understand more about the impact of short-term letting in the city – its impact on the tourism industry, its impact on the property market and its impact on Cape Town's social fabric.

"Discussions are ongoing with short-term letting platforms (such as Airbnb), users, guests, the hospitality industry and property marketing agents."

Nicholson said a number of cities globally had developed policies aimed at regulating the sharing economy, especially short-term letting.

"We are engaging with the industry and the users/customers so as to better appreciate the nuances and dynamics of the industry so we can design an effective, balanced and representative response."

Nicholson said the survey results and time frames would be published in due course.

Last week, Cape Town signed a hospitality collaboration agreement with Airbnb aimed at promoting the "benefits of people-to-people tourism for Cape Town residents and their communities".

Internationally, cities that are battling with major rental housing crises have cracked down on single owner/multiple apartment holiday letting while supporting owners who rent out spare rooms in their apartments as long as they remain there with guests.

Many cities – including London, Paris, Amsterdam, New York, Edinburgh, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle and Portland – are supporting the "shared economy" by addressing the duration of short-term letting periods.

These cities require owners to live in their premises for a specified number of days each year.

Owners who holiday let have to register and pay fees. High fines are being imposed on transgressors.

In New York, homeowners can let rooms in a unit in which they live but they cannot rent out other units in a two- or three-family home for a shorter period than 30 days. Apartment owners feel unsafe watching tourists wander in and out with suitcases.

In addition, hotels are held to higher fire and safety standards than are apartment buildings, like having clearly posted evacuation plans and extensive sprinkler systems.

In Edinburgh, consideration is being given to introducing controls to allow homeowners to let a property for no more than 90 days a year on the grounds of community issues of over-concentration, public safety, waste collection, noise and community cohesion.

A similar 90-day limitation has been imposed in a number of cities around the world.

Laura Spanjian, Airbnb public policy manager, said in in a statement in January, headlined "Working together to protect long-term housing in Portland", that the company has a one-host, one-home policy aimed at addressing the "housing affordability crisis and unwelcome commercial operators who may be converting housing to illegal hotels on our platform and others".

Introducing the policy to Portland, she said Airbnb had already launched the one-host, one-home product in New York and San Francisco, limiting "hosts to advertising listings at just one singular address on our platform".

Author: Blake Wilkens

Submitted 31 Oct 17 / Views 689