Implications of a short-term rental trend to be studied

Implications of a short-term rental trend to be studied

There is a growing phenomenon in Singapore of home owners offering their residences for short stays.

It is a situation that will require the Government to study whether to change home rental rules, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan yesterday.

But, in the meantime, he said owners who rent out their homes, whether private or otherwise, for less than six months are breaking the law and "necessary actions will be taken".

He made the point when noting the growing popularity of home-sharing websites like Airbnb, which let owners offer their homes for short stays.

Many such sites have disclaimers stating that those offering or taking up such accommodation must comply with local laws and regulations, said Mr Lee, who is also Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry.

"So I think in this context of renting out properties for less than six months, clearly they are in infringement of our Planning Act," he said.

But in the longer term, the Government will need to study the implications of this trend, he added.

Such "sharing of resources... is itself positive" but comes at the expense of existing regulations that protect both consumers and service providers, said Mr Lee in his reply to Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC).

He noted the risks of changing the rules, saying that the Government does not want a situation where consumers are promised certain services or products but do not receive them.

"So I think we have to look at both the interest of the larger public as well as the appeal or attraction of such form of resource-sharing," he added.

Since last year, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has received about 520 complaints about the alleged rental of individual strata-titled private residential properties for less than six months.

Those who complained had concerns about privacy and security, owing to the presence of transient guests and their use of common facilities, said Mr Lee.

The URA investigates all complaints and if an offence has been committed, the home owner can be fined up to $200,000 and jailed up to 12 months.


This article was first published on September 9, 2014.
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