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Campaign launched to rid Phuket of illegal holiday rentals

PHUKET: Provincial authorities have launched a campaign to rid the island of illegal holiday rentals with local officials and community leaders compiling a register of all rental accommodations in their respective areas across Phuket.

By Suthicha Sirirat

Wednesday 6 July 2016, 02:33PM

Phuket Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat announced the campaign to rid Phuket of illegal holiday rentals yesterday (July 5). Photo: Suthicha Sirirat

Phuket Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat announced the campaign to rid Phuket of illegal holiday rentals yesterday (July 5). Photo: Suthicha Sirirat

Phu Yai Baan (village headman) and Kamnan (subdistrict chiefs), as well as officers from each of Phuket’s three District Offices and local administration organisations (OrBorTor) and municipal officials, will scour their areas to compile the register, Phuket Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat revealed yesterday (July 5).

“They will search their areas and question local residents about any rental accommodations in their areas,” V/Gov Chokdee said.

The move is the first foray under the new “Phuket Hotel Model” policy, which aims to make Phuket a “model province” from which all other provinces in the country can follow in handling rentals of less than 30 days that breach the Hotel Act, he said.

“According to our records, less than 50,000 rooms are legally registered as hotel rooms in Phuket, but our investigations so far show that Phuket has more than 100,000 illegal hotel rooms,” V/Gov Chokdee said.

“There are too many illegal accommodations that breach the Hotel Act. This includes businesses such as condominiums, apartments, flats, mansions, guesthouses, homes for rent, rooms for rent and commercial buildings, most of which have been altered or developed into accommodation, and rented out on a daily basis,” he added. (See “Phuket condo owners warned 'holiday rentals' less than 30 days risks fines, jail time”, here.)

In addition to such a large number of businesses potentially avoiding paying the appropriate tax on their income while affecting the income of legitimate hotels, the issue concerned tourist security, V/Gov Noted.

“Businesses registered under the Hotel Act are required to inform the authorities of details of all guests who check in and out of their hotels,” he said.

“These businesses that breach the Hotel Act do not do this, which means the government cannot control or provide security for tourists who stay at these illegal hotel rooms,” he said.

Under the “Phuket Hotel Model” policy, the government has a three-pronged strategy, V/Gov Chokdee explained.

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“First are the properties that are already in good shape and which already can operate and provide services similar to a hotel. They are able to register as a hotel right away because they do not have building, land or environmental issues to contend with first in order to satisfy the requirements under the Hotel Act,” he said.

“If these places want to provide rentals of less than 30 days, they can register themselves as a hotel, or else they can face the penalties under the Hotel Act,” he added.

The second group are places whose owners want to offer rentals of less than 30 days but must first improve the building structure or the services provided in order to register as a hotel, he said.

“These places must make the required improvements and register as a hotel – or else face the punishment under the Hotel Act,” V/Gov Chokdee said.

“Last are properties that cannot be registered as a hotel due to the requirements of the Hotel Act. To solve this issue, they might have to provide accommodation rented out on a monthly basis instead,” he added.

However, V/Gov Chokdee said that provincial officials had appealed to Interior Ministry officials in Bangkok to consider creating a new way for places that currently cannot register under the Hotel Act to be able to register as rental accommodation establishment so they could be rented out on a daily basis.

“We are trying to convince the Interior Ministry to consider a change or to revise the law to allow businesses to operate as a hotel if they have more than four rooms but currently are unable to be registered as a hotel,” he said.

“Before, places with only four rooms could not be registered as a hotel. To solve that, we propose that they places with more than four rooms, maybe up to 20 rooms, can be registered in some way so they will fall under the Hotel Act,”V/G Chokdee concluded.



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