YCDC takes aim at unlicensed hostels
YANGON City Development Committee says it will take action against people operating unlicensed hostels catering to locals.
Hostels have become increasingly popular among locals who struggle to afford the rent in Myanmar’s largest city. Ma Kay Thi lives in a private hostel on Anawrahta Road where she pays K35,000 a month.
“There are about 20 people in the apartment with a shared toilet and bathroom,” she said. “I don’t have to pay electricity or water charges. It’s convenient sometimes. I can’t afford the rent for an apartment, because they are very expensive. So I live in a cheap hostel.”
Ma Kay Thi was unsure whether her hostel had a licence, but U Hla Kyine, deputy head of YCDC’s administration department, said many Yangon hostels lack the necessary paperwork.
In the process of investigating unlicensed businesses in downtown, YCDC staff uncovered several instances of people operating hostels without a licence, he said. Pabedan township, which borders Sule Pagoda, has some 20 hostels – but only three are licensed, U Hla Kyine said. Another five are in the application process, he added.
“[People operating unlicensed hostels] have been given notice and informed they need to apply,” he said. “If they do not submit licence applications then legal action will be taken.”
YCDC law states that people operating hostels without a licence – among other offences – can be sentenced to one year in jail and fined a maximum of K500,000.
Hostels are also a feature of the industrial zones on the outskirts of Yangon, where workers on low wages cannot afford to rent their own apartment. U Zin Min Tun lives in a twostorey 10-room hostel in ward 13 in East Dagon township. The owner rents out each room for around K60,000 a month, he said, with at least five occupants to a room.
“Rent is very expensive so we live in a hostel,” said U Zin Min Tun, but like Ma Kay Thi he could not say whether the homeowner had a licence to operate.
The steady increase in the number of Yangonites operating hostels has prompted YCDC to carry out a systematic investigation of which are operating legally and make sure occupants are being well-served, said U Hla Kyine.
Applications for hostel licences should be made to the township municipal administration office, which then assesses the location and capacity of the proposed hostel before passing the application on to the district municipal administration office, he said. The assessment includes making sure that water, electricity, plumbing and fire safety measures are all adequate. The fee for a standard one-year hostel licence depends on the township in which the hostel is based and on how many people it can accommodate.
Hostels provide a cheaper alternative to many who can’t afford hotels.