Kenya: Govt to Begin Crackdown on Unregistered Airbnbs Next Week

Nairobi — The government has announced plans for a crackdown on unregistered short-term accommodation facilities, including Airbnbs, in response to the surge in femicide across the country.

In a joint statement from the Ministry of Interior’s Principal Secretary (PS) Raymond Omollo, along with Anne Wang’ombe (Gender), Beatrice Inyangala (Higher Education), and John Ololtuaa (Tourism), inspections on non-compliant properties will commence on February 5.

On Wednesday, the government directed all operators of Airbnbs to register with the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) with immediate effect.

The four ministries said that the registration process is designed to ensure that all accommodations meet the highest standards of safety and security for guests.

“We will subsequently coordinate with booking platforms to restrict unregistered rentals and further institute severe penalties, including fines and revocation in cases of non- compliance,” read a joint statement in part.

The announcement comes amid growing calls for more stringent regulations governing Airbnb operations, particularly in light of recent cases of femicide associated with rented properties.

Notable incidents, such as the tragic killing of socialite Starlet Wahu in South B and the murder of 20-year-old university student Rita Waeni in a rented house in Roysambu, have sparked concerns and increased demands for improved safety measures.

The PSs called on the resident associations to work closely with law enforcement agencies through information, joint inspections, and conducting coordinated responses to ensure compliance.

They argued that the initiative underscores government’s commitment to safeguarding the well-being of individuals using these services.

“We urge all stakeholders in the short- term rental sector to adhere to these regulations, recognizing their legal and moral responsibility in ensuring a safe environment for all individuals regardless of gender,” they added.

The Ministries further called for increased public awareness and action to address the global issue of violence against women.

They emphasized the need for stakeholders at all levels, including the government, community, and international actors, to collaborate to create a safer environment for women and hold perpetrators accountable.

Earlier, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua revealed that the government is actively seeking public input to refine regulations governing short-stay facilities.

Mutua, addressing attendees at the inaugural Kenya Women in Tourism Association Conference on Wednesday, emphasized the integral role Airbnbs play in contributing to the tourism sector.

He encouraged women to consider investing in such facilities as a means of boosting the country’s economy.

“Despite recent challenges, I urged women and youth to consider investing in these facilities, underscoring the importance of exploring innovative alternatives to conventional accommodations,” he said.

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