As summer arrives, so does an influx of tourists to Taipei. Many of these visitors choose to stay in a bed and breakfast (B&B) or even in a cheap short-term rental. However, there is a problem: none of these places are legal! Some even contain hidden hazards. To put your mind at ease, the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government is here to help you choose a high-quality hotel that is safe and legal.
Xiaoqing, a resident of Kaohsiung, planned a five-day, four-night summer visit to Taipei with a few high school classmates. An online search revealed several beautifullooking rooms that appeared to be great deals. Yet the addresses were incomplete and prices were not listed. Upon arrival, Xiaoqing discovered that the room they chose was situated in an old rooftop apartment! Not only did sound easily pass through the thin walls, but there was also poor ventilation, leaving the room stuffy. It was only at this point that the disappointed travelers realized that they were staying in an illegal short-term rental.
Rather Than Save a Buck, Choose Somewhere Secure
Zhang Kunhai (張坤海), head of the department’s Tourism Industry Division, states that many people have had the same experience as Xiaoqing. According to Zhang, before their departures, tourists can see if hotels listed online are legal by checking either the Travel. Taipei or the TaiwanStay websites. Upon arrival, they can also look for the business registration certificate of the hotel and verify that the certificate number and the number on the hotel logo sign matches. If the reception clerk dodges questions about whether or not the hotel is legal, then beware! Something is probably awry.
Zhang also said that all legal hotels are required to post evacuation routes and hotel regulations behind the door of every room. Guests are encouraged to pay close attention to them and to take note of the locations of fire extinguishers and other evacuation equipment and facilities on the floor where they are staying. Legal hotels also use fire resistant building materials, rugs, curtains, room dividers and other facilities, in accordance with regulations, so that you can rest assured during your stay.
So what exactly are the facility and equipment-related hazards frequently found in illegal hotels? Zhang said that illegal short-term rentals have never been inspected by agencies responsible for building, firefighting and health, nor do they have public liability insurance. Furthermore, many are tucked away in old buildings, on rooftops or in alleys, which affects the lifestyle of other nearby residents and even blocks evacuation routes. Some are operated anonymously, which means that if consumer disputes arise, guests are left without recourse.
Zhang said that as of the end of June, Taipei had already become home to 473 legal all-purpose and tourism hotels. Together, these offered more than 30,000 rooms that fell within a range of prices able to satisfy all types of visitors. Zhang said the most convenient and safest option for visitors was to check either Taipei’s Travel. Taipei website or the TaiwanStay website, which is operated by the national Tourism Bureau. All of the options listed on those sites are legally certified.
Zhang added that currently all shortterm rental units and B&Bs in Taipei are unlicensed. In accordance with the“ Act for the Development of Tourism,”(發展觀
光條例) the operator of an illegal shortterm rental unit could be subject to a fine of between NT$180,000 and NT$900,000 and ordered to immediately close. Those who refuse to terminate operations are subject to utility cuts or even forced demolition. The department provides helpful and friendly guidance to operators seeking to open legal hotels which meet regulations for establishment. For anyone coming to Taipei for business or pleasure, Zhang strongly recommends choosing to stay in legal accommodation for the sake of safety. Visitors to Taipei are welcome to dial 1999, ext. 6896 or 7574 for more information.