AirBnB has been on a mass expansion spree in India, but unfortunately, the international online hospitality marketplace has failed to adhere and fulfill crucial Government (GOI) of India regulations, including those stipulated for foreigners and particularly citizens of certain countries including Pakistan.
A random survey of AirBnb hosts and properties in Mumbai revealed that none of the AirBnB hosts maintained a separate register for foreigners in the format provided under Form F (Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1992). None of the hosts were registered with the local FRRO office and though many of them did host foreigners, they did not fill up and submit the Form C which is mandatory for hosts or managements of home stays and owners of “Bread and Breakfast” schemes. Not just that, hosts have to inform the local police station or SP office, but the same was never being done, our survey revealed.
As per GOI regulations, any entity or individual that provides accommodation – even for a few hours, to foreigners must submit the details of the residing foreigner in Form C to the registration authorities within 24 hours of the arrival of the foreigner at the premises. The Form C can be submitted online once the accommodation provider completes the registration process.
The regulations also require the accommodation provider to complete and maintain the Form B as a corresponding register. Foreigners working in India, may also need to comply with Income Tax laws, but many foreigners come to India on a tourist visa and then find employment in the film industry, either part-time or full-time and use AirBnB hosts for accommodation in Mumbai suburbs, shifting from one host to the other depending on budgets and facilities or discounts offered.
Many AirBnB hosts were renting our premises without verifying the identity of the guests and as this journalist found out, a guest without any identification was also permitted to stay by a host in the Western suburbs.
While Indians do believe in Atithi Devo Bhava, this lackadaisical attitude could mean a serious security risk for the nation.
In spite of several attempts to contact AirBnB, we did not receive any response from the company, nor was there any response to our telephonic messages. Emails sent to the mail ids listed on the AirBnB website bounced as either failed or undelivered.