GEORGE TOWN, Oct 14 — The Penang government is coming up with a new policy to govern the conversion of stratified residential premises into homestays and short-term accommodations, state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo (DAP – Datuk Keramat) told the state legislative assembly today.
He said there are currently no laws on both, especially in stratified residential premises.
“In Penang, we want to lead, we want to have a clear stance to state that we will not allow short-term accommodations in residential buildings but if it’s in a commercial building with serviced apartments, then maybe, we can look at it differently,” he said when replying a question by Syerleena Abdul Rashid (DAP – Seri Delima) regarding the issue of homestay in residential areas.
He said Penang has the third-highest number of stratified properties and there is a need for such guidelines as short-term accommodations could affect the social security and safety of other residents.
He said the guidelines would focus on the importance of obtaining approvals from all residents on whether to allow short-term accommodations at stratified residential premises.
“This is the main thing in our guidelines but I agree that this is not under our jurisdiction as it is under the strata management act which is under the federal government,” he said.
He hoped the federal government would take heed of this issue as the conversion of residential units in stratified buildings into short-term accommodations affects everyone and is not a political issue.
He said there must be a clear decision to stop this kind of commercial activity that will affect the safety and security of residents.
The local government, housing and town and country planning committee chairman referred to a recent decision by the Federal Court on short-term accommodations at a stratified residential property.
“The Federal Court’s decision states that any management corporation or joint management body can come up with house rules to ban homestay and short-term accommodations in their buildings and that it was not ultra vires the strata management act,” he said.
He said this decision came at a time when the state is discussing guidelines for homestay at stratified residential properties.
He said the city councils were already advising management corporations (MC) and joint management bodies (JMB) to come up with house rules that prohibit homestay or short-term accommodations in their buildings.
“There is a provision under the strata management act allowing JMB or MC to come up with this house rule and enforce it so that if any unit owner was to let out their unit for homestay, they can be fined up to RM200,” he said.
He acknowledged that the RM200 fine was not a strong deterrent but said there were no other legal provisions on this, which was why a federal law was needed specifically for this.
As for homestays or short-term accommodations in other residential buildings, he said the local authorities can issue notices under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976.