Airbnb rental regulations being drafted by the ‘competition’

Airbnb rentals are unfair competition to hotels, a trade group charges. Photo illustration/Staff
Airbnb rentals are unfair competition to hotels, a trade group charges. Photo illustration/Staff

Merida, Yucatán — The hotel industry has begun talks with legislators to quickly establish proposed regulations targeting Airbnb and other online rentals.

After already lobbying for a 16 percent tax on Airbnb revenue, Chamber of Commerce President Juan José Abraham Dáguer, Tourist Business Council President Jorge Escalante Bolio and Héctor Navarrete Medina, leader of the Yucatán Hotel Association, agreed that private homeowers who list their properties online — in competition with hotels — should be regulated.

Many cities already do this, banning short-term rentals or requiring permits.

Right now, Yucatán’s online rentals — HomeAway and VRBO are other platforms — are fairly freewheeling. Unsupervised properties can be let out for any period, and properties are not subject to health or safety certifications.

And just as Uber has chipped away at taxi operators’ longstanding hold on one sector, and food trucks have caught the attention of restaurant owners, the online platforms have irked the hotel business. Up to 800 rental homes, villas, apartments or single rooms in Yucatán are offered on Airbnb.

Escalante Bolio complained that online rentals represent unfair competition for established companies that pay wages, hire employees and are registered as service companies. Rental homes, however, employ local people to clean, service pools and manage the transaction, although the tenant doesn’t have access to a concierge or bellhop.

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