Shared homes upset neighborhood
Residents in a neighborhood in China’s southwestern Chongqing Municipality recently protested the presence of more than 300 short-term rentals in their midst.
They blasted these homes as a source of noise and a security hazard, but were clueless as to which authorities they should report the case to. It has become an increasingly popular option for tourists, especially the younger generation, to stay in a shared home that offers the possibility to get in touch with local people and culture.
Innovative as it is, the home-share business has led to myriad problems.
For example, residents complain about feeling unsafe living in a neighborhood full of strangers; shared home operators sometimes defy regulations by re-partitioning a three-bedroom apartment into five separate rooms; residents occasionally have to take the stairs as elevators are hogged by tourists.
Residents turn to neighborhood committees and property management companies for help, only to be told that no action can be taken unless there is legislation on shared homes.
In fact, the Ministry of Commerce had released guidelines in March 2017 on short-term rental and solicited public opinion.
According to the guidelines, hosts must obtain business licenses and meet a long list of requirements, one of which is to avoid disturbing neighbors.
Disappointingly, the guidelines fail to say which authorities will be responsible for supervision or what will happen to those who violate the rules.
In Vancouver, unlicensed hosts of shared homes face a CA$1,000 (US$770) daily fine while Kyoto has set up a hotline to handle residents’ complaints regarding shared homes.
It is high time our regulators studied the example of their foreign counterparts to start seriously plugging the legal loopholes and making rules for shared home operators to follow.