Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has asked Airbnb to ensure its booking system can limit the number of nights landlords make their homes available on the short-term rental platform.

According to a Sunday Times report, Hanekom’s spokesperson, Blessing Manale, confirmed Hanekom met company representatives in Pretoria last week and asked them to ‘ensure their IT systems are aligned with the national rules or thresholds, to ensure and enable compliance by hosts’.

In April, the Tourism Department gazetted proposed regulations that would bring short-term rentals under its authority.

It wants to limit the number of nights Airbnb owners can rent out their properties. Annual thresholds under consideration are 30, 60, 90 or 120 nights, notes the report.

If home owners exceed the limit, they would be subject to the same laws as accommodation businesses, such as the need to zone guesthouses as commercial property, corporate rates and taxes and municipal laws relating to commercial guesthouses.

The public has until mid-July to comment on the proposals, and Manale said landlords who fell under the ‘probable threshold’ should not be concerned.

‘Airbnb’s typical SA host rents out 19 nights a year and earns some R25 000 to R27 000 in income. So it is expected that by far the majority of Airbnb hosts will carry on operating on an amateur level with no impact from the likely thresholds,’ he said, pouring cold water on strong opposition to the plans, particularly in the Western Cape.

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)