Kaohsiung, Taiwan begins major crack down on illegal rentals

There are reportedly almost as many illegal rental properties in Kaohsiung as there are licensed establishments

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Kaohsiung skyline (Image from pixabay user tingyaoh)

Kaohsiung skyline (Image from pixabay user tingyaoh)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Tourism Bureau in Kaohsiung this week turned up pressure in the crack down on “illegal rental properties,” cutting utilities at an unlicensed establishment offering short-term accommodation in the Zuoying District.

Such measures are likely to be employed with more frequency over the coming months as Tourism Bureau’s nationwide pursue a campaign in league with some of the country’s largest tourism companies to shut down unlicensed illegal rental properties, most operating through platforms like AirBnb.

The establishment that had its utilities cut had reportedly been already ordered to cease operations. The Bureau in Kaohsiung is reportedly fining unlicensed establishments renting to guests in line with the Tourism Development Act, and ordering them to cease their illegal business.

The campaign to root out small “illegal rental properties” began in earnest mid-June with a press conference and launch event in Taipei Main Station, in order to improve Taiwan’s “travel safety” standards and increase the country’s overall “tourism profile.”

In comparison to the roughly 300 licensed hotels in Kaohsiung City, there are reportedly 263 establishment providing accomodation illegally. Liberty Times reports that in the first half of this year, 72 fines were issued to unlicensed establishments, totaling NT$9.41 million (US$308,000).

The government claims that most establishments operating illegally have only minimal contact with customers using only text messages or email to communicate, and sending keycodes allowing access to their properties.

The Tourism Bureau has stated that this makes it much easier for the property owners to skirt regulations and avoid government oversight. As a result, the government has become concerned with a lack of safety standards and the possibility of scamming customers at such establishments.

Liberty Times reports that the bureau is in talks with the website AirBnb about completely removing unlicensed rental properties from the platform.