Airbnb today announced that it is calling on Hong Kong residents to sign a petition urging lawmakers and the government to reconsider the HAGAO amendment bill and launch a new round of public consultation on home sharing.
The petition comes at a time when the Legislative Council hosted the first Bills Committee meeting to discuss the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance (HAGAO) Amendment Bill on November 6.
Outlined based on public consultation back in 2014, the Amendment Bill neglects the need to visit a regulatory framework for home sharing, which has grown rapidly in Hong Kong in recent years, generating HK$ 2.6bn in economic activity in 2017.
As home sharing industry has grown around the world, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggested earlier this year that there is an “urgent need” to review the regulatory framework on new business models and technological innovations such as home sharing, making it “more flexible and adaptable”.
In October, the Legislative Council Secretariat issued a comprehensive research report on home sharing, recognizing the lack of policy adjustment on home sharing in the amendment bill, despite the Audit Commission’s suggestion to look into creating a new category of license for home sharing in October 2017.
“The amendment bill has in many aspects been overtaken by advances in technology and visitor expectations, risking Hong Kong’s global standing against its regional counterparts.”Mike Orgill, APAC Public Policy Director of Airbnb
The petition (abnb.co/HKPetition) seeks public support in urging the government to launch a new round of public consultation on home sharing. Airbnb will collect feedback from now until December 31, 2018. The results will then be submitted to legislators and the Home Affairs Department.
The research report took a deep dive into how regulators globally are striking a balance between policies that embrace innovation, while addressing local needs. Airbnb has reached over 500 partnerships with local governments across the world towards home sharing regulation, with major cities such as Berlin, Tokyo and Sydney passing through fair, sustainable and safe regulations suitable for local community. (see Appendix 1)
Airbnb has continuously shared detailed home sharing policy options (see Appendix 2) with the Hong Kong government, including a proposal submission to the 2018 Policy Address Public Consultation. However little progress has been made, despite the objectives set out in last year’s Policy Address – to “review outdated laws” and promote “balanced, healthy, and sustainable development of the tourist industry”.
Orgill concluded, “It is time for Hong Kongers to urge the government to take real action, maintaining the competitiveness of Hong Kong as “Asia’s World City” and provide opportunities for travelers to experience the true beauty of Hong Kong.”
Home-sharing is widely supported by cities around the globe
Airbnb partner with over 500 governments across the world towards home sharing regulation. Many of the conversations we’ve had in Hong Kong echo the conversations we’ve had with hundreds of governments, all of which are working with Airbnb to find common sense solutions.
Airbnb today shared latest examples of policy frameworks implemented in cities and countries around the world:
Australia – New South Wales and Sydney:
In June 2018, the New South Wales Government announced fair and innovative rules that give home sharing the green light in New South Wales, which reflects and supports the way people travel and use their homes after nearly three years of extensive consultation. The framework allow short-term holiday letting as exempt development 365 days per year when the host is present. Home sharing platforms will have to comply with a new mandatory code of conduct.
In December 2017, the city proposed a comprehensive set of regulations that have the potential to be a model for communities throughout the nation. The clear regulatory framework allows hosts to obtain permits for their primary residence and up to one other property. Registration system will be developed for hosts to register directly with the city and pay annual fee. A flat tax on short-term rentals that is comparable with a tax rate paid by hotels with 60+ rooms in Seattle is applied. The ordinances will come into effective January 1, 2019.
In May 2018, Denmark introduced new and innovative rules that make clear home sharing is welcome in Denmark, and that Danes can share their homes with guests from around the world. The government has increased the amount of tax-free earnings hosts can earn from sharing their space, and simplified tax processes for hosts. Local authorities will get new powers that allow them to decide on the number of nights hosts can share their entire primary homes.
In June 2017, the Japanese Diet approved a bill by a vote of 220-18 that legalized home sharing for the entire country. This is the first national law in Asia that legitimizes short-term rentals and Airbnb expects more cities to embrace this trend. Hosts must notify the prefecture to start hosting, and may share up to 180 nights a year either hosted or un-hosted. Un-hosted listings are also required to have a registered property manager. The law came into effect June 15, 2018.
Airbnb proposed framework for regulating home-stay lodgings
With more than 400 million guests having traveled on Airbnb to date, and close to 1.65 million travelers using Airbnb to either travel to or from Hong Kong in 2017 alone, they are also out of step with the way tourists want to travel and experience cities.
Alongside the online petition we announced today, Airbnb reinforced our proposed detailed policy options that we believe will help home sharing grow responsibly and sustainably in Hong Kong, including, but not limited to:
- Registration requirements that will provide critical information to the Hong Kong government
- Safety and security guidelines to ensure the safety of our community
- A simplified licensing framework for new guesthouses