Vacation homes have become a great source of pleasure for holidaymakers looking for a cheap alternative to hotels – but a growing headache for permanent residents who live nearby and often have to face revelers’ noise and pollution, especially at weekends.
With rents as little as 4,000 baht a night for a three-bedroom property in popular resorts like Pattaya, Hua Hin and Khao Yai, the take-up from people desperate to escape Bangkok’s traffic and pollution at rates well below most hotels is huge – and increasing rapidly.
While this is good news for owners of houses and condos that have been acquired for the express purpose of satisfying this rental market, it’s not always greeted so enthusiastically by locals who have to face this weekly influx of visitors.
With no official rules regarding the number of guests staying in these holiday homes – provided it does not exceed 40 – they have become extremely popular. Above that number, the property is regarded in law as a hotel with a long list of complex rules and tax obligations.
“When we bought our house, this part of Hua Hin was still relatively undeveloped. There was lots of empty land and few other houses. It was really pleasant. But that’s all changed over the past couple of years, with something of a building boom here. We’re surrounded by other houses now,” explained the Canadian. “We expected change, of course, but not on this scale. Many of the properties are for short-term rent– and that means lots of weekend vacationers staying in the area. They don’t have our sense of community, they crowd the streets with parked cars, make loads of noise and leave behind lots of rubbish.
“Most of the houses have swimming pools, so there’s lots of screaming, which we can tolerate as it’s people simply enjoying themselves,” continued the expat.
“What is unacceptable, though, are the giant stereo systems and monstrous speakers that belt out noise sometimes past midnight.
The only thing that’s worse are the karaoke machines and the awful singers who hog the microphone.
“When three or four houses are occupied at the same time, you get the feeling that each is trying to out-do the others with the noise they make.”
The couple have been advised to contact the local authorities about the unwelcome level of noise, but so far they declined to do so for fear of upsetting the properties’ owners.
They are now considering selling their house, but won’t tell any prospective buyer about the weekenders. “We will only show them the property during the week when it’s quiet around here.”
Owners of condos have related similar stories about mass occupancies, almost always by complete strangers, in their buildings. Many complain about noisy parties continuing to dawn and the lack of respect for the privacy of neighboring apartments.
To a person, they believe that the situation is causing a fall in the value of their investment. One family had an even worse problem when the occupiers of the condo on the floor below began holding weekendlong barbecues on the terrace. Faced with the smell of never-ending cooking, they eventually complained – only to discover that the tenants were actually using the condo as a temporary kitchen for a nearby restaurant.
Property owners in Thai resorts believe that the situation is serious enough to cause a fall in the value of their investment. And with a tax holiday on rental income for the next five years, the advent of weekend holiday homes is not going away soon.
The plight of permanent residents is bound to worsen.