Airbnb suffered a setback in Thailand after a court in Hua Hin ruled it was illegal for owners to let a property for less than 30 days, Manager Online reported (link in Thai). The news will undoubtedly cause more confusion with many now wondering; is Airbnb illegal in Thailand?
More than 774,000 guests coming to Thailand booked rooms via Airbnb in 2016 and the company rolled out its Experiences programme in Bangkok last year. The Hotel Act and the Condo Act are what govern short-term lettings in the country and despite some confusion, it appeared as if Airbnb was legal assuming a person didn’t own more than three units in a given building.
However, the court in Hua Hin took a different view to the laws, which experts have previously noted as not being very clear. The court found that an owner letting out a unit on a daily or weekly basis was in violation of the Hotel Act which states residential units cannot be rented out for less than 30 days.
Owners in the Wan Vayla condominium complex in Khao Tao, a suburb in Hua Hin, were found guilty and ordered to pay fines. Units in the condominium were still listed on Airbnb at the time this article was published.
Is Airbnb illegal in Thailand?
Before the latest ruling in Hua Hin, it was believed the Hotel Act was only applicable to anyone owning three or more units in a building. This meant condominium owners only letting one unit were not obligated to follow the Hotel Act that would require them to register as a hotel.
Meanwhile, the Condo Act does not contain any legal outlines for short-term letting. However, the rules set by a condominium’s juristic board were legally enforceable, so if short-term letting was forbidden in these, unit owners could not rent their property on websites like Airbnb.
The question still remains: is Airbnb illegal in Thailand? Until the government creates clear guidelines for short-term letting, it appears as if uncertainty will surround Airbnb. It has clearly been deemed illegal in Hua Hin, but it is hard to determine the scope of this ban with only three cases being prosecuted.
If you are listing a condominium unit on Airbnb, it is strongly recommended you check the rules set by the building’s juristic board to see if short-term letting is permitted. Even this might not be enough to protect you with some courts now enforcing the Hotel Act.