I am shocked by the hands-off approach of accommodation websites, such as travelmob, Roomorama and Airbnb, towards ensuring that all their listings comply with the rules on rental of residential properties ("More renting out homes as 'hotels' "; last Tuesday).
As legitimate businesses, they are responsible for accepting only the listings of licensed operators, and not those looking to make a quick buck by renting out their homes for short periods.
The rule is clear: Residential properties must be leased for at least six months.
Condominium unit owners pay maintenance fees to upkeep the common facilities for the use of residents and their guests, not for the commercial benefit of fly-by-night "hospitality" players.
Unlike hotels or serviced apartments, residential properties do not have adequate operating budgets and protocols to manage errant home-stayers.
If online accommodation enterprises feel strongly about the "cookie-cutter" nature of hotels and serviced apartments here, they may wish to seek permission from the authorities to develop a condo-hotel, or "contel", with its own set of terms and conditions.
I am sure there is a market for such a development among property owners who wish to "meet people from all over the world".
Until then, property owners, accommodation websites and those listing on them ought to play by the rules - or face the law.
Toh Cheng Seong
This article was published on May 6 in The Straits Times.
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