Date
17 November 2017
A proposal to make short-term rentals a 'strict liability offense' has been accepted by the Legco home affairs panel. Photo: Airbnb
A proposal to make short-term rentals a 'strict liability offense' has been accepted by the Legco home affairs panel. Photo: Airbnb

Airbnb homeowners, guests could face prosecution

Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah said his department has completed a review of the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance, and would be proposing legislation to make short-term rentals a “strict liability offence”.

That means both landlord and user on the popular Airbnb platform could face prosecution, hk01.com reports.

The review came in response to Legislator Elizabeth Quat’s written inquiry on the recent surge in Airbnb usage, with flat owners renting out their apartments without a license.

Some owners have complained that people use Airbnb to rent out their private apartments and let the tenants use their membership cards to use clubhouse facilities, which infringe their rights.

Lau said the Office of the Licensing Authority (OLA) finds it hard to collect evidence to prosecute owners for their unlicensed hotel or guest house operations.

This is the reason the Home Affairs Department wants to include the term “strict liability offence” in the proposed legislation.

The new provision will effectively relieve OLA’s burden of proof by allowing the use of circumstantial evidence to prosecute owners.

Lau said the proposal has been accepted by the panel of home affairs of the Legislative Council and the legislative process could begin next year.

In order to tackle unlicensed hotels or guesthouses, OLA has established special units to scour social media to follow up on unlicensed hotel cases.

If there is sufficient evidence, OLA will act immediately to prosecute the owner.

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