Experts Discuss Using Apartments as Hostels

29 july 2015

Experts of the Analytical Center have discussed the regulation of small hostels. The state standard regulating the running of hostels went into effect on Jan 1, 2015 (GOST R 56184-2014 National Standard of the Russian Federation. Hospitality Services. General Requirements for Hostels). Under the new standard a hostel is defined as a low-budget hotel and hostels must be run in accordance with the requirements of the Residential Code of the Russian Federation.

Citing international practices, the Head of the Department for Legal Expertise of the Analytical Center Marina Labozina noted that in the US operation of hostels is subject to standards for maintenance, convenience, safety and cleanliness. “A hostel is essentially a self-regulating organization. Self-regulating organizations have charters that must comply with federal laws and the laws of the specific state,” said the expert. Meanwhile, Europe has no special regulations for hostels and hostels are run on the basis of charters that must be drawn up in accordance with applicable laws, Ms. Labozina noted.

The positive socio-economic effects of hostels, according to the expert, include low costs of accommodation that makes them an attractive option for tourists traveling on the cheap. In addition, hostels are a great tool for developing small and medium sized businesses and thus generating extra revenue for local treasuries. Ms. Labozina then went on to point out that there are downsides to hostels as well. “If an apartment is converted to a hostel, oftentimes there will be lots of complaints from the other residents in the same building. In addition, hostels often put up stateless individuals and they are occasionally used as fronts for illegal activities,” the expert said.

“We have submitted proposals on what amendments need to be made to the current law to introduce a requirement that hostels located in apartment blocks and that ten or more guests can stay in at the same time have a separate entrance,” the Assistant to the Dean of the National Research Institute of the Higher School of Economics Artem Bulatov said. He also noted that a complete ban on using apartments as hostels is also being discussed. “We do not support this ban as it will not solve the problem,” Mr. Bulatov said. “We want to see more hotels but we want them to be on good terms with the other residents of the apartment blocks.”

The Managing Director of the ID Hostel chain of premium class hostels Dmitry Selkov talked about how the hostel market has been growing in the regions. He believes that the problems Moscow is currently faced with are only just emerging in the regions. “Our job now is to look at what we have seen happening here and then apply what we learned in the rest of the country,” Mr. Selkov said. According to him, in the regions hostel staff often has little idea about how to act in accordance with the law while the local federal migration service often has no clue about how to cooperate with hostels. “The market is underdeveloped so the legal framework has to be improved, clear regulations are needed as well as procedures for interacting with the authorities,” Mr. Selkov believes.

The President of the Russian Hospitality Business Association Gennady Lamshin said that the Federal Migration Service and the Ministry for Communications are working on a project that seeks to channel the flow of information about Russian citizens and aliens through the state services portal. “A special form will be developed for hostels to enter information about their guests so they will not have to go to the local federal migration offices,” Mr. Lamshin said, adding that this state services will be offered free of charge.