All Airbnbs Must Be Registered- Govt

The directive was among a series of other directives announced by the government in response to the rising cases of femicide witnessed in the country

All Airbnbs Must Be Registered- Govt
An Airbnb logo embedded on a photo of the inside of an Airbnb homestay. /LODGABLE.COM

The government has announced that all operators of short-term accommodation rentals, including Airbnbs, will be required to register with the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA), effective immediately.

In a statement to newsrooms on Wednesday, January 31, the Ministry of Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo and his Tourism counterpart John Oltuua revealed that the registration process is designed to ensure that all accommodations meet the highest standards of safety and security for guests.

The directive was among a series of other directives announced by the government in response to the rising cases of femicide witnessed in the country, with the murders of Starlet Wahu and Rita Waeni taking place at Airbnbs.

Police officers at TRM Drive along Thika Road where 20-year-old Rita Waeni was found murdered in an Airbnb on January 14, 2024. /LEON LIDIGU

"Starting from 5th February 2024, National Government Administrative Officers (NGAOs), in collaboration with the TRA, will commence stringent inspections of all registered properties.

"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," the statement read in part.

Resident Associations have been encouraged to work closely with law enforcement agencies for effective enforcement. This includes sharing information, joint inspections, and coordinated responses to any safety standard violations.

Furthermore, the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) has implemented stringent safety protocols aimed at enhancing security and accountability within these premises.

Security guards are now legally mandated to record the identification details of all individuals entering these premises, documenting their time of entry and exit; and temporarily retain all visitors’ identification documents.

Moreover, these measures mandate the installation of CCTV surveillance systems, ensuring that the recording of footage remains consistently up-to-date.

"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.

"We also call for increased public awareness and action to address the global issue of violence against women. It's crucial that stakeholders at all levels – Government, community, individuals and international actors, collaborate to create a safer environment for women and hold perpetrators accountable," added the statement.

The government also remarked on the efforts of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) which introduced a specialized team with firm instructions to expedite investigations on serious sexual offences and murder incidents involving women, adding that "with rigorous enforcement, our goal is to foster a safer space for everyone."

DCI's new femicide team wa derived from the investigative agency's Homicide Directorate and was formed with a mission to put to an end the worrying trend of femicide in the country.

The team comprising criminal intelligence analysts and forensic experts, will also partner with other stakeholders to come up with swift and comprehensive preventive strategies to address this atrocious violation of human rights. 

Femicide cases have been on the rise in 2024, with over 15 women murdered countrywide. Statistics amassed by Africa Data Hub reveal that in 75 per cent of cases, the femicide killings were committed by a person who knew the murdered woman - an intimate partner, relative or friend.

Protesters march in Nairobi CBD on January 27, 2024. /TOM MUKHWANA