Macau | Airbnb listings can't summarily be considered illegal lodging - Tourism authorities

The Macao Government Tourism Office has told MNA that since there is currently no local regulations against apartment leasing to non-residents then the department can't summarily extend the definition of illegal accommodation provision to Airbnb listings

Macau (MNA) – The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) has told MNA that since there are currently no local regulations against apartment leasing to non-Macau residents, the department can’t summarily extend the definition of illegal accommodation provision to Airbnb listings.

Last Sunday, a publication by the University of Macau (UM) Student Association, the Orange Post, reported that the institution had ordered the expulsion of a master’s student for illegally renting out a university residence room on Airbnb.

Meanwhile, MNA could see that several hotel rooms and serviced apartments are listed on Airbnb – an online platform for home rentals – especially aimed at Mainland Chinese, despite a staunch opposition by local authorities over illegal accommodation.

MNA inquired after MGTO to clarify the legal standing of Airbnb in Macau, with the head of the department Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes having in past occasions expressed that the service was not allowed in the city and that the majority of Macau residents opposed its use.

According to the Macau SAR law, any accommodation that is provided for the public without a hotel operation license in any individual apartment or premises that are not a hotel or built for similar purpose, is considered an illegal lodging service, under the condition that the party who stays in the above premises is a non-Macau resident without a special permit for staying in Macau or a special permit for staying as a foreign employee.

However, if the accommodation provider and the party who stays in the premises have a stable relation of tenancy and a statement of declaration for housing tax has been submitted to the Financial Services Bureau (DSF) regarding such relation of tenancy before the above activity is investigated, then it would not be considered illegal accommodation.

This exception also extends if the accommodation provider is an acquaintance of the party staying in the premises due to kinship, work, study or other personal relationship before the party starts staying in the premises and if accommodation is provided for the party without compensation because of such relationship.

Therefore the MGTO indicated that it ‘must investigate and analyse every building or apartment that is allegedly operated as illegal accommodation based on the legal definition’, before it can verify ‘if the situation involves provision of illegal accommodation’.

Previously the MGTO informed MNA that in 2018 they had inspected 1,379 apartments, with 245 being sealed for allegedly operating as illegal accommodation.

Based in San Francisco, US, Airbnb acts as an online broker connecting hosts looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations. The company itself does not own property but it receives commissions from every booking.

The company made more than US$1 billion (MOP8 billion) in revenue as of the third quarter of 2018, having currently more than 5 million listings in more than 191 countries and regions.

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