Singapore seeks public feedback on short-term home rentals like Airbnb

Photo: Pixabay

The Singapore government, which has charged two men with unauthorised short-term letting of apartments, said on Friday it plans to seek public feedback soon on a regulatory framework for allowing such accommodation.

The move comes as strict rules on short-term property rentals in the city-state, a keen early adopter of the sharing economy, have invited some complaints, as it seeks a balance between encouraging new disruptive industries and keeping them in line.

While there’s a place for short-term letting, the government will review and consider safeguards to ensure it does not negatively affect the “amenity” of residential estates, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said.

A coming public consultation will seek feedback on a framework for allowing short-term accommodation in private homes, the URA said in response to Reuters’ questions.

This week, Singapore charged two men with unauthorised short-term letting of four apartments, its first such prosecution.

They were charged under the Planning Act for renting out condominium units for less than six months without permission from the URA. If found guilty, the two are liable to a fine of up to S$200,000 ($148,150) per offence.

The rentals were arranged through Airbnb, which was not referred to in court documents.

Airbnb says it has 8,700 listings in the city-state. Singapore has high population density, and its limited land area means a majority of the 5.6 million people live in apartments.

The URA said part of the public consultation “will involve working with key stakeholders such as representatives of home-sharing platforms, resident groups and other accommodation providers to ensure that the framework is robust and addresses the concerns of all parties, including residents and industry stakeholders.”

The planning agency said it investigated 985 cases of unauthorised short-term accommodation in private homes in 2015 and 2016, and about 750 cases in 2017’s first 11 months.

In most cases, the agency said it secured compliance from owners to cease unauthorised use of the properties.

Airbnb, founded in 2008 in San Francisco, matches people wishing to rent out all or part of theirhomes to temporary guests.

The firm has clashed with hoteliers and authorities in cities including New York, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, which in some cases are limiting short-term rentals. Critics accuse Airbnb of exacerbating housing shortages and driving out lower-income residents.

In a statement on Friday, Airbnb said Singapore‘s current regulatory framework “is untenable and does not reflect how Singaporeans travel or use their home today”.

Private homes in Singapore are subject to a minimum stay of three consecutive months, under rules revised earlier this year, and cannot accommodate transient occupants. The URA said those needing accommodation of less than three months can consider hotels and serviced apartments.

Also read:

Japanese regulators raid Airbnb over suspected antitrust laws’ violations

Airbnb’s former China head is said to have violated company code

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.