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New rental rules undergo changes after complaints from AirBnb and home exchangers

The Ministry of Tourism says it is revising its plan to regulate tourist rentals following complaints from AirBnB, property owners and home exchange programs.

AirBnB is objecting to the tourism ministry’s new rules regulating tourist rentals.

Originally set to go into effect in November, the rules would require all properties rented to tourists to be registered with the tourism ministry, pay an annual tax, provide rental usage records and abide by a variety of other rules.

Minister of Tourism Rosi Prado de Holguín said that “a number of issues” in the new plan are being reviewed and some will be revised. “We are in conversations with property owners and international companies such as AirBnB to clarify confusing points of the plan.”

In a letter to the tourism ministry, AirBnB officials claimed that the new rules would mean that the service could not advertise in Ecuador and that they violate the rights of property owners. Two international home exchange websites also objected after the ministry said that property owners who swap homes with owners in other countries would also fall under the new regulations and would need to register.

Ecuador’s Chamber of Commerce is also protesting on the grounds that the new rules put unfair burdens on property owners and real estate companies. “Landlords are already required to report rental income and pay tax on earnings to the SRI,” says Martina Blanca of the chamber. “The tourism ministry wants to apply another level of bureaucracy and accounting and charge another tax and we believe that is unfair.”

Blanca added that, as written, the new rules do not adequately define who is and who is not a tourist for the purposes of the new regulations. “What if a visitor to Quito or Cuenca is in the country on a work contract for six months? Will he be considered a tourist.”

Although Prado de Holguín said “corrections were being made” to the rules, he did not specify what changes are being considered. He said he and other officials of the ministry will continue to meet with representatives from AirBnB, HomeSwap and real estate companies in the coming weeks. He did not say if the ministry will delay the November start date for the new rules.