2 Singapore Airbnb hosts plead guilty to unauthorized short-term rentals

2 Singapore Airbnb hosts plead guilty to unauthorized short-term rentals
The prosecution is seeking to fine Terence Tan En Wei and Yao Songliang with a $20,000 fine for each of the four charges, or a total of $80,000 each.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Two Singaporeans on trial for unauthorized short-term rentals posted on Airbnb pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday (Feb 27) in the first such cases under the city-state's rules on short-term property letting introduced last year.

Terence Tan En Wei, 35, and Yao Song Liang, 34, pleaded guilty in court to four charges of illegally renting out four apartments in a luxury private condominium in central Singapore.

Prosecutors said the pair, who were property agents, had listed the apartments on Airbnb, which allows homeowners to share their homes for a fee by marketing them online, and other vacation rental sites.

The duo made $19,000 from renting the apartments between May 15 and June 21 last year, prosecutors said.

The men face a fine of up to $200,000 per offence. Prosecutors however requested fines of $20,000 per charge for a total of $80,000 for each of the two defendants. Defence lawyers sought fines of $5,000 per charge.

The two men were charged for letting four units at D'Leedon condominium without permissionPhoto: The Straits Times

The government has pledged to seek public feedback on a regulatory framework covering such rentals after the cases of the two hosts prompted a plea from Airbnb that the existing framework was "untenable".

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

The firm has clashed with hoteliers and authorities in cities including New York, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, which are limiting short-term rentals in some cases.

Critics blame Airbnb for exacerbating housing shortages and driving out lower-income residents.

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