Online travel services have been booming in China, and vacationers who want to mingle with locals – and grab a discount on accommodation – have turned to short-term home rental businesses, similar to Airbnb. But there's a problem. China’s online short-term accommodation market has legal issues concerning regulation and oversight. The situation has led to an ongoing online debate.
The problems of this business model lie in misleading online descriptions and a loose management system that causes security risks.
Travelers have been expressing the difficulties they have faced in trying to resolve disputes and protect their rights and interests, since short-term home rental platforms are unable to carry out on-site inspections of all lodgings or attend to urgent issues.
Online commentators have noted the difficulties in supervising these short-term lodgings because most have not registered with the authorities, and the supervision of short-stay housing lags far behind the rapid growth in demand for it. A representative from a rental platform countered that most lodgings listed would be banned if official tourism regulations were implemented.
Experts suggested authorities should issue special regulations for these lodgings, restrict the size of houses able to participate and raise security standards, following in the steps of Zhejiang Province. In 2016 it became the first provincial government to introduce laws to rein in the lodging industry in aspects such as building facilities, fire safety and management.