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Kenya Mandates Registration of Airbnb, Short-Term Rentals with Tourism Authority

In response to a recent tragic murder incident in Nairobi involving a short-term accommodation rental, the Kenyan government has announced new sweeping regulations aimed at enhancing safety and security in the short-term rental sector. This move significantly impacts platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and other similar services operating in Kenya where people can list their apartments, houses or other accommodation facilities and have people rent them for a couple of hours or days.

Dr. Raymond Omollo, the Principal Secretary of Internal Security and National Administration, in a joint press release with other government officials, outlined the new mandatory registration requirements for all short-term accommodation rentals. These measures come into effect immediately, following concerns over the safety of individuals, particularly women, using these services.

The Private Security Regulatory Authority has introduced stringent safety protocols. These include the legal requirement for security guards at rental premises to record the identification details of all individuals entering, noting their time of entry and exit. Additionally, visitors’ identification documents will be temporarily retained for security purposes. The installation of up-to-date CCTV surveillance systems is now mandatory for all short-term rental operators.

Starting from February 5th, 2024, the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA), in collaboration with National Government Administrative Officers (NGAOs), will commence inspections of registered properties. The government plans to coordinate with booking platforms to restrict access to unregistered rentals and enforce severe penalties, including fines and revocation of licenses in cases of non-compliance.

The initiative underscores the government’s commitment to safeguarding the well-being of individuals using these services. Ms. Anne Wang’ombe, Principal Secretary for Gender and Affirmative Action, emphasized the importance of public awareness and action to address the global issue of violence against women. A dedicated team led by the Director of Criminal Investigations has been formed to tackle cases of femicide, with a focus on creating a safer environment for all individuals.

Resident Associations are also encouraged to collaborate with law enforcement agencies in enforcing these new regulations. The government’s goal is to foster a safer space for everyone, with a special emphasis on protecting women from violence.

Dr. Beatrice Inyangala, Principal Secretary of Higher Education and Research, and Hon. John Ololtuaa, Principal Secretary of Tourism, have also signed the press release, indicating a multi-sectoral approach to this pressing issue.

The new regulations mark a significant shift in Kenya’s approach to short-term accommodations, prioritizing safety and security in the wake of a disturbing incident. It is a call to action for all stakeholders in the short-term rental sector to recognise their legal and moral responsibilities in ensuring a safe environment for all guests.

In the context of these new safety regulations in Kenya, Airbnb’s recent “Africa Pledge” initiative demonstrates the company’s commitment to enhancing safety and inclusivity in the tourism sector. The $500,000 fund and the aim to work closely with African governments and tourism bodies can be seen as complementary to the Kenyan government’s efforts to increase security in short-term rentals. This synergy between private initiatives and government regulations could pave the way for a more secure and sustainable tourism environment in Kenya and across Africa.

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