The incident of the New Zealand family being denied access to their Airbnb rental raises the question of why short-term listings for Singapore apartments remain available for booking on the website despite it being illegal (Illegal Airbnb, short-term rentals pit condo management against errant owners; ST Online, March 16).
Broadly speaking, I believe that travel lodgings and residences do not and should not mix.
Permanent and short-term occupants have differing needs.
In the absence of stringent business standards applied to licensed hotels or authorised long-term rentals, travellers may be exposed to greater personal risk when utilising illicit homestays. Residents may also have reservations about transient strangers.
But can there be a compromise?
The demand for cheap, no-frills lodging for travellers is a missed opportunity for local entrepreneurs. Building a "new type of private home" would perhaps be a disproportionate and costly response.
A possible solution is to convert entire blocks of older high-rise flats into licensed hostels with basic furnishings.
This business model offers all the locational and cost advantages of a traditional Airbnb while providing sufficient physical separation from actual residences, allowing for easy enforcement of commerce and security standards.
Paul Chan Poh Hoi