Since the introduction of short-term rental options, available via Airbnb and Homestays, I’ve preferred booking these type of accommodations rather than hotels. The reason is simple, as a travel blogger, I typically stay in a city for at least 1 to 2 months. This gives me the opportunity to explore the place in-depth and experience it from a local’s point of view.
During these long stays, I prefer to stay at a place that feels like a “home away from home”. This also gives me the opportunity to cook my own meals and in turn save a bit of money. So, renting an apartment on Airbnb is the perfect solution for me.
Are short-term rentals legal in Bangkok?
Naturally, when I planned my visit to Bangkok, I decided to book an apartment on Airbnb in the Rattanakosin are so that I was within walking distance to all the temples in Bangkok and nightlife in Khaosan road.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find a suitable house in my price range. I found a reasonably priced apartment in an area further away from all the tourist attractions. So, I decided to split my stay into two. I decided to spend a week in a hotel near Khaosan road and then move to the Airbnb apartment.
Hotel stay at Khaosan road
As expected, I didn’t enjoy my hotel stay. The proximity to the noisy Khaosan road was a constant source of annoyance. The music and the Karaoke bars made sleep impossible at night. During the day, I was hassled by tuk-tuk drivers as soon as I left my hotel who offered to take me to the Floating market, Grand Palace and so on. In summary, I can say I experienced the worst side of Bangkok.
At the end of the week, I was glad to move away from this noisy part to the quieter apartment. The Airbnb apartment was located in a highrise on the banks of the Chao Phraya river.
The one bedroom apartment was amazing, with a balcony facing the river. The amenities in the building were also good. They had facilities such as a swimming pool, fitness center and shops inside the building complex.
I arrived late in the evening so I didn’t have the chance to see everything in detail the first day. The next day though, as I was leaving the building, I noticed a sheet of paper attached to the main door of the building. The notice read as follows:
This building is for residents only. This is not a hotel for day/weekly renters. If you are not aware, short-term rentals are illegal in Thailand. If you are caught renting on a short-term basis, you will be treated as a trespasser and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law! To the residents, please report any suspicious people.
A chill ran down my spine… I had never heard of this law before. I immediately got in touch with my Airbnb host. She explained that indeed short-term rentals are illegal in Thailand. However, I was safe as I had booked the place for more than a month. The rule only applies to people renting the apartment for less than 30 days.
Even though the law didn’t apply to me, I was surprised that neither the host nor Airbnb had informed me of this beforehand. In fact, there are many apartments offering short-term rentals on Airbnb in Bangkok.
Why are Airbnb rentals illegal in some cities?
I researched further to see if there are other cities around the world with such restrictions. I was surprised to find that many popular tourist destinations around the world such as Tokyo, Toronto, New York City, Berlin, Barcelona, and others have similar or severe restrictions on what can be listed as a short-term rental.
Some cities completely forbid it whereas some have on-going discussions on how to handle it. For example: In Toronto, according to the city’s official website, currently short-term rentals are not allowed. However, the issue is coming up for discussion soon in August 2019 when a decision will be made.
The reason for these restrictions is to primarily save the local from being priced out of the rental market. This law also helps the hospitality industry which has been experiencing a loss since these Airbnb rentals have popped up.
If you want to avoid unpleasant circumstances during your holiday, it’s better to check before you book if Airbnb is legal in that city/country. In the case of Bangkok, I strongly recommend staying at a hotel if you intend to visit Bangkok for less than a month.