Home sharing: Take action against offenders

It is most unfortunate that I live in one of the estates plagued by eager participants of this "new" home-sharing economy ("S'pore Airbnb host 'makes about $5,000 a year'"; Dec 6).

Home sharing makes good financial sense.

Being part of the black market economy, the income derived from it is tax free.

With rentals being inversely proportional to lease duration, the rates derived from such short-term leases are also far ahead of the regulated leasing models.

Furthermore, as the transient occupier does not officially exist, owners enjoy preferential owner-occupier property tax rates.

Given all the financial benefits of home sharing, it is hardly surprising that only the more law-abiding residents will opt for the traditional landlord-tenant scheme.

To address the influx of transient occupants in my estate, a group of residents submitted an appeal to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Building & Construction Authority and Ministry of National Development.

However despite home sharing being an illegal practice, we were presented with a series of administrative hoops before receiving vague promises of enforcement.

We were expected to provide details of the offending units as well as "clear and irrefutable" evidence of the offence in exchange for promises of enforcement.

Delegating the burden of proof to the community is exactly the sort of inaction that encourages vigilantism.

The authorities, through their inaction, appear to be defending those who are blatantly flouting URA and Housing Board regulations.

Bennette Teoh Liy Ben

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Home sharing: Take action against offenders'. Print Edition | Subscribe