Airbnb in Thailand: ‘Not unlawful overnight’

airbnb in thailand
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Short-term accommodation provider Airbnb is reported to be ready to announce a “major partnership” with the Thai government with days.

No specific details have been given, but we are going to speculate that any “partnership” may involve providing details of property owners using the popular website to the Thai authorities.

Recent reports have suggested that property owners using Airbnb in Thailand for short-term rentals are breaking Thai laws.

It is very likely that the majority of landlords using Airbnb are evading the 12.5 percent tax that needs to be paid on the assessed value of their rentals.

But according to Bangkok-based lawyer Paul Bond of SBLaw Asia, Airbnb in Thailand has not become unlawful overnight.

He said: “When I read articles on law which rely on phrases such as ‘All lawyers are agreed …,’ or ‘My colleagues and I are of the same opinion …,’ I would rather be reading Jane Austen.”

In what he described as an “Airbnb media blitz”, he added: “None of these recent news articles advance our knowledge one bit.”

“None of them provide a reason why the business of short stay rentals has overnight become, after generations of use, illegal.”

“It certainly cannot be made so by two decisions in a junior court on the coast.”

Bond was referring to the fact that no public information has emerged about reported recent fines imposed on several Airbnb hosts in Hua Hin.

He asked: “What were the grounds for this decision? We do not know. Has a precedent been created? Not under Thai law it hasn’t, because Thai law doesn’t do precedents.”

Bond also said that recent news articles, especially two published by the Khaosod English website, highlighted the need to for a property owner to register any foreigner staying in their premises for 24-hours.

“They gleefully mention that any property so used must be registered with the local authority.”

“Both these facts are correct, but they have been for decades. They apply to all guest houses or individually-owned properties.

Bond concluded: “While there may be consequences of non-compliance, they do not make short-term lettings themselves unlawful in any way.”

Airbnb in Thailand claims to have more that 60,000 listings for short-term property rentals throughout the kingdom.

Andrew Batt
The author of this article is Andrew Batt, the founder and editor of Andrew has been writing about property and real estate issues in Thailand and Southeast Asia for more than 10 years. He has worked for PropertyGuru Group, DDproperty, Dot Property Group, Hipflat and AsiaRents. He has also produced content for leading Thailand property developers and real estate agencies.

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