Kenyans have an insatiable affinity for tech. They eagerly jump on any bandwagon of innovation that promises quick solutions to their local problems. Take the use of Airbnb to sell idle living space for instance. A 2018 Airbnb report ranked Nairobi third on the list of African cities with the highest number of facilities on the platform. The trend can only go up. Cape Town and Marrakesh take the lion’s share in first and second place, respectively. Johannesburg and Casablanca follow in fourth and fifth.

By 2022, Airbnb boasted a host network of close to 3 million globally – 14,000 each month! In that same year, hosts across 100,000 cities listed over 7 million properties in the system. Today, if you want to list your free accommodation space, the choice is wide and varied. In Kenya, you can now sign up as a host on SafariQuest Rentals, a new booking engine for homeowners looking to generate some passive income from their homes. Packed with lots of powerful marketing features, SafariQuest Rentals has the advantage over Airbnb of accepting mobile money as a payment option. But what do you need to qualify as a SafariQuest Rentals or Airbnb host in Kenya? Where do you start?

  1. You need to register your Homestay, Villa, Service Flat or Apartment, Condominium, or Hostel with the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA). The annual license for a serviced apartment, for instance, goes for KES 26,000. First-timers will pay a single application fee of KES 1,000. TRA also handles inspection and licensing.
  2. You will then need a Single Business Permit from the host’s County government. With about KES 10,000, you can get a permit for medium traders.
  3. Other costs include a National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) license fee, home insurance, and a 1% Digital Service Tax. For limited liability companies, hosts will also pay 16% VAT. Keep the tax receipts because they will come in handy when doing expense deductions on income tax.
  4. Beyond the costs, a prospective Airbnb host in Kenya will also need to show some paperwork. You will need a copy of your current lease agreement if renting or a title deed if you own the premise. Companies additionally require a certificate of registration, memorandum and articles of association. They also need to show proof of compliance with tourism or area development plans. They must also provide evidence of insurance coverage for the premises, a current health clearance certificate, and a medical certificate for food handlers.

Fulfilling these requirements gets you closer to the all-important dream of generating a new side income as an Airbnb host in Kenya. Who knows, you might even do this full-time!