Govt Goes After Airbnb Operators

A holiday home in Nanyuki available of the Airbnb application.
A holiday home in Nanyuki available on the Airbnb application.

The government through the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) has commenced the crackdown in a bid to regulate Airbnb operators in Kenya.

The tourism body is embarking on registering and licensing all serviced apartments, homes and villa operators in the country.

"Furnished apartments and private villas are among the licensable accommodation facilities that offer regulated hospitality services. They are listed in our 4th Schedule of the Tourism Authority Regulations 2014 and are required to be registered, inspected, and licensed by TRA before the commencement of operation.

"For members to be successfully registered by TRA and issued with the regulatory license, they are required to meet minimum requirements for licensing of such activities and services," a letter by TRA Central Regional manager, Moses Karanja read in part.

A cottage for rent in Watamu on the Airbnb application.
A cottage for rent in Watamu on the Airbnb application.
Watamu Airbnb

Airbnb and other operators of homestays are required to pay a one-off application fee of Ksh1,000 and an annual license fee of Ksh26,000 per unit and avail copies of certain documents.

The documents required are a filled application form; an original deposit slip for application and license fees; tariff/rack rates and a copy of the title deed/lease agreement for the premises.

For one to get a license from the regulatory authority, an operator ought to have home insurance as well.

The operators in the Central region were given until March 31, to register with TRA  undertake Inspections of all registered units starting April 2021

"Arrears and penalties shall be waived for those who will comply within the registration window. Those who will not comply and continue operating without the Tourism license will be liable to prosecution without further reference and will upon conviction pay accrued license fees, arrears, and penalties for the period operated," the authority warned. can confirm that the operation was scheduled to commence in the Central region with a local agreement for the operators to pay the annual license fee per person for the current year instead of per unit due to the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Every member shall pay one initial license fee for 2021 upon which they will be required to pay up for each unit in 2022," the Airbnb operators in the Central region were advised.

At the time of publishing, efforts to reach TRA on the nature of a national crackdown were not successful as the calls went unanswered.

According to the Airbnb website, hosts are inclined to pay Value Added Taxes as well as income taxes from the business.

"You may be able to deduct your expenses from income taxes, so you should keep receipts of the costs of running your experiences.

"Some other taxes or duties may be applicable. We recommend you to check with your local tax advisor or attorney whether your activity may be subject to additional taxes or duties," the online marketplace advises.

A photo of someone holding a phone with an Airbnb logo in a living room
File image of an Airbnb illustration. Airbnb has revolutionised the travel industry giving traditional hotels a run or their money.