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When deciding whether to become an Airbnb host, it’s important for you to understand how the laws work in your city.

According to Brett Herron, the mayoral committee member for transport and urban development at the City of Cape Town, different holiday accommodation land-use types, such as B&Bs and guest houses, are regulated by the City’s zoning scheme, called the Development Management Scheme.

If referring to Cape Town, for instance, the city has a Guest Accommodation Policy that sets out the guidelines that have to be considered when applications are made to obtain the necessary planning permissions. According to the Policy, if you wanted to provide a self-catering, flexible accommodation option in line with current trends for transient guests, visitors and tourists, then these are the guidelines that should be followed.

Catering to guests’ needs

In order to qualify, a building or group of buildings consisting of separate accommodation units rented for residential purposes, each incorporating a kitchenette / full kitchen, but may include an option of meals being provided communally to guests. This can also include communal areas for exclusive use by lodgers /transient guests, where guests can dine.

Architecturally speaking

When looking at the building structure itself, certain guidelines also have to be met. The form and scale of the development are determined by the development parameters of a particular zone (i.e. floor space, building lines, height) and the site’s context.

No general restriction exists regarding the number of units that are allowed, but must be appropriate in the local context of the building/site characteristics and surrounding area. Restrictions on the number of units allowed per development may thus be imposed in certain cases.

Location, Location, Location

As long as there are no zoning restrictions or area-specific by-laws that prohibit you from short-term rental of your property, there really isn’t anything standing in your way. Criteria that should be considered, however, are as follows:

  • Proximity to public transport routes, commercial centres and tourist activities;
  • The character of the surrounding area and community;
  • Mixed-use or commercial locations (including areas designated for high-density development) are encouraged.

  In many cities, it is required to register, get a permit, or obtain a licence before you can list your property or accept guests, and short-term bookings may be prohibited altogether. Local municipalities may also vary greatly in how they enforce these laws.

But it’s important to remember that, for most, it is entirely possible to list your property on Airbnb. Once you decide to begin your journey towards registering an Airbnb, it is important to consult your local municipality to find out if there are regulations standing in your way. If you need assistance in starting up your Airbnb, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).

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