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Solve home-sharing problems with some creativity

A private residential complex stands among public housing buildings in Toa Payoh.
A private residential complex stands among public housing buildings in Toa Payoh. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

The answer to the question asked in last Sunday's report ("Can S'pore make room and rules for home-share offerings?") is a definite "yes", but with some safeguards.

The concerns of the anti-home-sharing segment seem to revolve around safety, noise, cleanliness and the use of shared common facilities by strangers.

But these can be addressed through technology, regulation and other creative solutions.

For instance, some home-sharing services require identity verification, such as scanning of driving licences, to make sure visitors are who they say they are.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) can work with home-sharing services to strengthen existing checks or make it a requirement for users to verify their identities before being allowed to make a booking.

With regard to cleanliness and sharing common facilities, home owners guard against this by requiring upfront deposits.

Perhaps this protection could be extended to common facilities, by requiring the home owner to leave a deposit with either the URA or management corporation.

Any bills for clean-up or damage can be deducted from the deposit. Fines for noise could also be incorporated into this system.

There could be an Internet-based central common facilities deposit system for Singapore home owners and management corporations.

Home owners can also obtain insurance to cover damage by their visitors.

There are many benefits to the sharing community, such as a source of income for retirees, a reprieve for property investors in a dismal rental market, and a real experience of Singapore by tourists. Let us not forgo these simply because of a lack of creativity to solve the problems.

Abdul Malek Mohamed Ali

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 29, 2016, with the headline 'Solve home-sharing problems with some creativity'. Print Edition | Subscribe