Cape Town Airbnb hosts must adhere to municipal by-law and zone restrictions

2017-10-30 15:46 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - If you're a property owner and want to let your flat out for short term rentals - you need to familiarise yourself with the Municipal Planning By-laws and, if applicable, with the rules of the body corporate. 

Especially since letting flats out in the city-centre of Cape Town is illegal without the proper approval processes in place.  The City of Cape Town's mayor committee member, Brett Herron told Traveller24 that the City, through its Municipal Planning By-law (MPBL), together with its policies and frameworks, will provide control over holiday accommodation within the city. 

"There are mechanisms for short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfasts in dwelling houses," says Herron. "Larger-scale holiday accommodation can take place in guest houses and in hotels."

SEE: Airbnb in Cape Town CBD flats illegal without city consent

Herron says any owner wishing to do short-term holiday letting from a flat or a block of flats – irrespective of the platform (an electronic platform such as Airbnb or otherwise) facilitating such letting – must ensure that this is compliant with Body Corporate rules and ensure that the property is appropriately zoned, and must apply to the City for approval. 

"Applications must be made to the City’s Development Management Department. Any property owner wishing to make an application is advised to approach one of the City’s district planning offices or to access the Planning Portal on the City of Cape Town website where the requirements can be obtained," he says. 

Short-term letting or transient accommodation is a complicated matter and it would be to the advantage of any potential applicant to request a pre-application consultation session with a land use planner, says Herron.

SEE: Airbnb and Wesgro to harness share economy for Western Cape with new agreement

Residential zone differences

General residential zoned properties and single residential zoned properties do not have the same restrictions.

"Most general residential zoned properties in the city have only a dwelling house (a house used as a residence rather than for business) and in some cases a second dwelling, says Herron. " The City’s Development Management Scheme permits B&Bs to be run from such dwellings without any permission subject to compliance with conditions as specified in the scheme."

Added to this, Herron says owners of general residential zoned properties may also run a guest house from a dwelling or second dwelling which seems to be a popular approach. 

A guest house would, however, require the approval of the City if the property is zoned for single residential purposes.

"As per the relevant conditions, it is important to note that bed-and-breakfast and guesthouses can only operate from a dwelling house or second dwelling and not from a block of flats. 

"Most body corporates also have their own rules and regulations regarding the number of inhabitants and letting of property," he adds.

Furthermore, Herron says written complaints regarding land use contravention will be investigated. 

"If there is evidence of contravention then legal action will be initiated by the City," he adds. "The owner may also apply to the City to rectify any land use contravention."

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