Cape Town residents say a shortage of accommodation in the city has caused rental prices to soar, and have blamed the popularity of Airbnb.
While Cape Town has plans to address the housing crisis that has hit it and other large cities around the world, regulations already exist which encompass services like Airbnb.
This is according to Brett Herron, the mayoral committee member for transport and urban development at the City of Cape Town.
“The different holiday accommodation land use types, such as B&Bs and guest houses, are regulated in the City’s zoning scheme, called the Development Management Scheme,” said Herron.
“Furthermore, the Guest Accommodation Policy sets guidelines to be considered when applications are made to obtain the necessary planning permissions.”
Since Airbnb is an online platform for advertising and acquiring holiday accommodation, it must adhere to these regulations.
Herron said the City’s zoning laws permit, without the need for an application, the use of up to three rooms and six paying guests in a dwelling house as a “bed and breakfast establishment”.
The property must still be used as a dwelling house for the above to be true, which means a family unit, or independent person, must be resident in it as their primary dwelling.
If the property owner exceeds this number, they may need to obtain City approval to run a guest house.
Where a land use application is made to the City by a home owner for approval of a guest house or other form of guest accommodation, the proposal would be assessed against the City’s Guest Accommodation Policy.
“Importantly, Airbnb is not a land use activity that needs to be defined or included in our zoning scheme to be regulated,” said Herron.
“It is the responsibility of each owner to ensure that whatever type of accommodation they want to list in this marketplace is in compliance with the permitted uses under the zoning of the property as provided for in the zoning scheme.”
Airbnb boosting South African economy
Airbnb recently released a report stating that its community generated R2.4 billion in economic activity in South Africa in 2016, which is the estimated sum of guest spending and host income.
Its data showed that the 394,000 guests helped local hosts earn R817 million in the past year, and spent an estimated R1.6 billion in South Africa during their stays.
The average length of a stay per guest was 4.3 nights in 2016, with 2.6 people in the average group, and over 50% of guests were from overseas. The average age of the booking guest was 37.