No matter where you go and no matter how you plan your trip – one of the most important factors to consider is “accommodation.”
And it is typically one of the biggest expenses on any trip. Whether you are looking for luxury hotels or budget options, the price often comes into the equation. No one wants to pay more than they have to. For this reason, it is no wonder why Airbnb has gained global popularity and is one of the leading booking platforms on the market – offering a plethora of accommodation options in a convenient fashion (1).
Despite all the obvious benefits, Airbnb does have some issues in some countries that have set strict policies and requirements regarding who can and cannot book accommodation through the platform.
And one of these countries in question is Thailand. If you are planning on visiting the Land of Smiles and are thinking about booking a Thailand Airbnb, then read on to understand the local laws before doing so.
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb is an online marketplace established in 2008 when two co-founders first came up with the idea to share their spaces with travelers who looked for a place to stay.
This rental business connects people who want to rent out their homes with people who are looking for accommodations in specific locales on a short-term basis. Interestingly, one of the most advantages of this business for tourists is accommodation can be relatively inexpensive compared to hotels. This is because any property owner can create a hosting account to rent out their space. Therefore, they can set how much to charge and do not have the same overhead costs (2).
Obviously, Airbnb users benefit from this. On the flip side, from the hotel owners’ perspective, who have to pay more business taxes and overheads on properties, this booking platform can be seen as unfair. Due to this, some countries have strict rules and measures to control short-term rentals through Airbnb.
For example, in Singapore short-term rentals are not permitted. The permitted rental is capped at least 3-6 months per year, depending on the type of accommodation. This is because the government has a clear objective to protect the hotel business (3).
In Japan, a new law “Minpaku” was enacted in 2018. The hosts are not allowed home-sharing services and private lodging in residential areas during the popular tourist seasons. The rentals are only allowed during the low season with a maximum of 6 months per year (4).
In France, Airbnb rentals are often not allowed in urban areas because of insufficient residence. Airbnb hosts can rent out their homes for 4 months per year (5). Likewise, Airbnb rentals are capped for 3-4 months per year in Europe, the UK, and the US.
So, how about Thailand Airbnb?
Is Airbnb Illegal In Thailand?
Even though there are conflicting opinions about the legality of Airbnb in Thailand, it is considered illegal for landlords to rent out properties on a short-term basis without acquiring a hotel license (6, 7).
What Thai Law Says:
The Hotel Act, B.E. 2547 (2004), Section 15 states “No person shall operate a hotel business unless he has obtained a license issued by the Registrar. The application for and issuance of a license shall be in accordance with the rules and procedures prescribed by the Minister (8).” Therefore, it is clear that renting out properties temporarily without a hotel license is illegal in Thailand.
However, when considering The Ministerial Regulations on the Types and Guidelines on Hotel Business Operation B.E. 2551 (2008), Chapter 1, Clause 1, it allows certain properties to be exempt from The Hotel Act, where it states: “Temporary accommodations which are established for commercial purposes for travelers or any person have less than four rooms in the buildings and less than twenty residents, a hotel license is exempted (9).” This means that the owners of applicable properties can rent these out on a short–term basis without a hotel license.
Taking things further, The Building Control Act B.E.2522 (1979) Section 32 stipulates that “commercial activities” can only be conducted in designated commercial spaces within the condominium building. This regulation is determined to allow residents to cohabit peacefully. So, if any hosts rent out their room for temporary accommodation, it is deemed guests may disturb other residents living in the building.
However, this regulation is contradicted by The Thai Civil and Commercial Code Section 1360: “Each co-owner is entitled to use the property as long as such use is not incompatible with the rights of the other co-owners (11).” Therefore, they claim that the owners have the right to rent out their properties.
The Bottom Line:
No matter how deep you dig into the law, the bottom line is, Airbnb is defined as “an illegal status” in Thailand since a court ruling in Hua Hin on May 10, 2018. The court ruled that renting out rooms through Airbnb is an illegal act.
Incidentally, two hosts (who rented out their properties for less than one month) were fined around 13,000 – 15,000 baht. In fact, the stipulated punishment under The Hotel Act, B.E. 2547 (2004), Section 15 “without a hotel license” is one-year imprisonment and a fine not exceeding 20,000 baht. Plus, a daily fine not to exceed 10,000 baht for as long as the violation continues.
Yet, the court also determined, Thailand Airbnb will be legal if the Airbnb hosts have a hotel license and they own their properties outright without any other co-owner involved (12).
Is Airbnb Allowed In Thailand?
Airbnb is deemed illegal in Thailand but the app remains in operation. Airbnb users are able to book accommodation. A possible reason why Airbnb is allowed in Thailand is when the Airbnb hosts have a hotel license and are the sole owner of their properties.
Moreover, for the accommodation with less than 4 rooms in the buildings or less than 20 residents, the owners can register with the Ministry of Tourism for short–term rentals as well. However, it is not allowed for multiple residences, such as condominiums or apartment buildings that the owners do not own the whole property.
What is the Minimum Age to Use Airbnb in Thailand?
There are no specific laws about the minimum age for foreigners who want to rent property in Thailand. However, if you want to use the Airbnb service, you must be over 18 years old to create an account (14).
For Thai nationals who want to book an Airbnb the minimum age of consent is 20 years old. The same age restriction applies to Thai’s who own properties and want to rent out them, to sign legal agreements and complete real estate transactions, etc.
Is Airbnb Safe In Bangkok?
Anyone who wants to become an Airbnb host and list their property on the platform is expected to adhere to Airbnb’s responsible hosting in Thailand. For example, health and cleanliness, the safety of hosts and their guests, occupancy limits, insurance, and courtesy, as well as regulations and permissions under Thai laws and Acts (15). Therefore, Airbnb is safe in Bangkok (and everywhere else in Thailand), as long as Airbnb hosts meet the regulations, requirements, practices, and standards set by the company.
Is Airbnb Legal in Koh Samui?
Airbnb is illegal everywhere in Thailand (including Koh Samui) unless the property owner has a hotel license or has registered with the Ministry of Tourism for short-term rentals.
However, there are many Airbnb options on Samui so tourists will not notice any difference in the Airbnb service (16). Airbnb operates independently and many property owners are still willing to host their places to tourists despite it being illegal under The Hotel Act, B.E. 2547 (2004), Section 15.
The truth is, if you book an Airbnb on Koh Samui, or anywhere in Thailand for that matter, you are unlikely to know if your booking is legal or illegal in the eyes of Thai law. This is because you won’t know if the host has the appropriate license. The truth is, most units in condominium buildings available for short-term rental tend to be illegal because they have been purchased for the purpose of short-term rental.
Airbnb is one of the most popular ways to find and book accommodation- this includes users in Thailand. However, if you are interested to book an Airbnb in Thailand, please be mindful that more often than not, the host does not hold the necessary paperwork that would make it legal. It is a risk that many Airbnb Thailand users decide to take. If you have any concerns, then consider licensed hotels to keep peace of mind and avoid any legal consequences. This is the best advice in case you do not want to take the risk!
1. Lily. 6 Biggest Reasons Why Airbnb Is So Popular. The Frugal Gene. [Online] 2017. [Cited: March 10, 2022.] https://thefrugalgene.com/airbnb-popular/.
2. Folger, Jean. How Airbnb Works. Investopedia. [Online] December 23, 2021. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/032814/pros-and-cons-using-airbnb.asp/.
3. LadyBee. รอวันฟ้าเปิด! กฎหมายไทยยังไม่คลอด เอื้อประโยชน์ให้ Airbnb. Thumbsup. [Online] April 29, 2019. https://www.thumbsup.in.th/interview-airbnb-crisis/.
4. Fujita, Junko. In Japan, New Rules May Leave Home-sharing Industry Out In The Cold. Reuters. [Online] April 23, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-airbnb-idUSKBN1HU06C/.
5. Coffey, Helen. Strict New Rules Imposed On Airbnb Rentals In Paris. Independent. [Online] November 14, 2017. https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/airbnb-paris-rules-new-rental-limit-bookings-stay-nights-latest-a8054771.html/.
6. Condo Newb. Airbnb กับอสังหาฯ ไทยเป็นยังไงบ้าง. Condo Newb. [Online] June 23, 2020. https://www.condonewb.com/insight/66/Airbnb-Issues/.
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11. ทนายแมน. มาตรา 1360 แห่งประมวลกฎหมายแพ่งและพาณิชย์. ประมวลกฎหมายแพ่งและพาณิชย์. [Online] March 4, 2020. https://lawman.in.th/8567/ปพพ-มาตรา-1360/.
12. Selley, Dhipkawee Sriyananda. Here’s What The Airbnb “Ban” Really Means In Bangkok. BK Magazine. [Online] June 17, 2018. https://bk.asia-city.com/city-living/news/heres-what-airbnb-ban-really-means-bangkok/.
13. BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ, REX. IMMIGRATION ACT, B.E. 2522 (1979). s.l. : OFFICE OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE, 1979.
14. Airbnb Help Centre. Age Requirements. Airbnb. [Online] [Cited: March 10, 2022.] https://www.airbnb.com.sg/help/article/2876/age-requirements?_set_bev_on_new_domain=1646933291_ODdhMmYwMmMxNjg4/.
15. —. Responsible Hosting In Thailand. Airbnb. [Online] [Cited: March 11, 2022.] https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/2208/responsible-hosting-in-thailand/.
16. Walsh, Emily. Airbnb In Koh Samui. Bangkok Attractions. [Online] January 11, 2022. https://bangkokattractions.com/airbnb-in-koh-samui/.