Parliament: Govt to study implications of websites offering short-term accommodation

The Government needs to study the implications of the increasing popularity and growth in the number of websites such as Airbnb, on which home owners offer their residences for short stays of under six months, said Senior Minister of State for Nation
The Government needs to study the implications of the increasing popularity and growth in the number of websites such as Airbnb, on which home owners offer their residences for short stays of under six months, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM AIRBNB WEBSITE

SINGAPORE - The Government needs to study the implications of the increasing popularity and growth in the number of websites such as Airbnb, on which home owners offer their residences for short stays of under six months, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan.

He was replying to Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), who asked if there were plans to review the regulatory framework governing such short-term rentals, given the growing popularity of such websites.

Currently, renting out residential premises for less than six months is illegal. Portals such as Airbnb do have disclaimers stating that those offering or taking up such accommodation must comply with local laws and regulations, noted 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 he added that in the longer term, the Government will need to study the implications of this growing trend.

Although the idea of sharing resources "is itself positive", it comes at the expense of existing regulations that protect both consumers and service providers, he said.

"We also do not want to see a situation where people sign up, being promised certain services or products, but in the end it wasn't delivered to them," he added.

Since 2013, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has received about 520 complaints specifically on the alleged rental of individual strata-titled private residential properties for less than six months.

Those who complained cited privacy and security concerns due to the presence of transient guests and such guests' use of common facilities, said Mr Lee. URA investigates all complaints received and if it finds that an offence has been committed, it will take enforcement action.

Private home owners can be fined up to $200,000 and be jailed up to 12 months if they flout the six-month minimum rule.