All short-term rentals to be registered

Tourism Regulatory Authority

A sign outside the Tourism Regulatory Authority offices in Nyeri. All short-term rental houses must now be registered with the authority. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Operators of short-term rental properties will be required to register with the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) immediately.

A joint statement from the ministries of Interior, Gender, Education and Tourism said the mandatory registration is in response to the murders that have been carried out in short-term rentals.

“Effective immediately, all operators of short-term accommodation rentals, including Airbnb, are required to register with the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA). This registration process is designed to ensure that all accommodations meet the highest standards of safety and security for guests,” read the statement.

It added that the Private Security Regulatory Authority has also implemented strict safety protocols aimed at enhancing security and accountability within these premises.

“Starting from 5th February 2024, National Government Administrative Officers (NGAOs), in collaboration with the TRA, will commence stringent inspections of all registered properties,” the statement added. “We will subsequently coordinate with booking platforms to restrict unregistered rentals and further institute severe penalties, including fines and revocation of licences in cases of non-compliance.”

The ministries said that the new safety measures will see guests register with the guards their identification card details as well as entry and exit times.

“Security guards are now legally mandated to record the identification details of all individuals entering these premises, documenting their time of entry and exit, and temporarily retaining all visitors’ identification documents,” they said.

House owners are also required to install CCTV surveillance systems, ensuring that the recording remains consistently up-to-date.

The ministries have also urged residents associations to help them enforce the new rules through sharing information, joint inspections and coordinated responses to any safety standard violations.

“We urge all stakeholders in the short-term rentals sector to adhere to these regulations, recognising their legal and moral responsibility in ensuring a safe environment for all individuals regardless of gender,” they said.

The statement added: “We also call for increased public awareness and action to address the global issue of violence against women. It’s crucial that stakeholders at all levels–government, community, individuals and international actors–collaborate to create a safer environment for women and hold perpetrators accountable.”

The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife had late last year put Airbnb operators on notice saying that out of 40,000 listed homes, only 400 had registered with the Tourism Fund.

The fund and other regulatory agencies launched a registration drive of the businesses, popularly known as Airbnbs in Kenya, in October to bring them under the tax bracket.

The move to have the short-term rentals registered will put them on the taxman’s radar even as the government seeks to collect the 2 per cent Tourism Levy.

The Kenya Revenue Authority had written to Airbnb, the online marketplace for short- and long-term homestays, to request transaction data covering the period from January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2022, as it narrowed down on tax evaders. It expects to use information obtained to make tax assessments and potentially issue respective tax demands to operators .