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Short-term rental benefits a vocal minority

I disagree with the suggestion that Singapore should find ways of legally accommodating the Airbnb phenomenon (Short-term home stays need rules; April 20).

First, we should recognise that the overriding purpose of short-term rentals is not any idealistic notion of enriching the visitor experience or to facilitate a "taste of authentic life".

Tourists almost always choose Airbnb-style lodgings because they are significantly cheaper than the prevailing market rate of other accommodations.

Second, the supposed advantages of short-term rentals in terms of revenue cannot be so trivially weighed against the "disamenities" of liberalisation.

As the risks and harms of permitting short-term stays often affect a large number of other residents, one questions the wisdom of privileging the very few who choose to rent out their properties. Bearing these factors in mind, it is clear that the Airbnb business model, and any move to legitimise it, benefits a vocal minority while inconveniencing a significant majority.

This runs contrary to the principles of strata living as outlined by the Building and Construction Authority, which emphasises communitarian thinking, shared responsibility and collective decision-making.

As the risks and harms of permitting short-term stays often affect a large number of other residents, one questions the wisdom of privileging the very few who choose to rent out their properties.

No subsidiary proprietor has the right to benefit from short-term rentals (Condos should get 100% consent on home-sharing, by Mr Toh Cheng Seong; April 18).

Moreover, middle-man technology providers create wealth for themselves and provide little employment benefits.

Adapting to alternative business models in a rapidly changing global economy is one thing, but acting on the highly simplistic premise of "keeping pace with the times" is simply fallacious.

Bearing in mind the dark side of the sharing economy, there ought to be more careful consideration of the likely wide-reaching social impact.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 06, 2018, with the headline 'Short-term rental benefits a vocal minority'. Print Edition | Subscribe