Here’s what happens to unauthorized Airbnb hosts in Singapore
IN SINGAPORE, listing your property on Airbnb can get you in trouble with the law.
Just this week, two Singaporeans learned it the hard way.
The men, property agents 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 the home-sharing platform. It’s the first such case in Singapore under new rules against short-term rentals.
Tan and Yao made SG$19,000 (US$14,500) from renting the apartments between May 15 and June 21 last year.
They will be sentenced in April and fined SG$80,000 (about US$60,338) each.
Singapore is a thriving city-state but land and housing remain perennial problems for the space-starved nation. And the government, as well as the authorities, take those issues very seriously.
More than 80 percent of the population live in government-subsidized apartments, otherwise known as the Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats. And to qualify for a HDB purchase, strict eligibility conditions apply.
Hence, there’s some level of sensitivity when it comes to housing in Singapore and owners listing their homes on Airbnb.
To add on, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) received 231, 375 and 377 complaints on short-term stays respectively. From January to April in 2016, there were 161 complaints.
This resulted in the introduction of new regulations in May last year banning homeowners from leasing property for less than three months without approval from authorities.
Private home offenders can be fined up to SG$200,000 and jailed for up to a year if convicted, according to The Straits Times.
Meanwhile, an Airbnb spokesman said that the company is hoping to work with Singaporean authorities to find a way forward.
Singapore is not the only country in the world to clamp down on the short-term rental sector. Major cities like New York, London, Barcelona, Miami, Paris and Berlin are also taking a strict line on short-term rentals.
Last year, a The Guardian journalist arrived at her Airbnb booking in Singapore only to find out that it was illegal, leaving her no choice but to book a last-minute hotel.