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Short-term rentals at private properties can throw up a host of operational issues

It makes no sense to allow short-term rentals at all private properties, even if these are subjected to some caveats, when one also acknowledges the immense challenges of regulating such a market (Airbnb rules, Singapore-style; March 18).

Opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong reasons that home-sharing should be confined to private condominiums or landed housing because Housing Board flats are primarily treated as homes and not as assets. But it is precisely because many private property owners treat their estate as both a home and as an asset that they reject short-term rentals in their midst.

For example, can Airbnb and its clients compensate condo residents for the inevitable erosion of their estate's privacy and exclusivity, including the use of facilities by a high turnover of strangers?

Who determines what is adequate compensation, especially if the estate is also vandalised by these guests?

There are a host of operational issues that must be addressed for short-term rentals to work according to Ms Chua's proposal.

Is it fair to make those who reject the idea put up with these unnecessary inconveniences, especially when they have nothing to gain and much to lose from these?

I have long argued for the restriction of short-term rentals to only a specific type of property that is developed or converted for such a purpose, subject to clearly defined rules and regulations that ensure a level playing field for all in the hospitality business.

It makes for far easier and more effective regulation, including in helping the authorities guard against market saturation and an oversupply of hotel rooms.

In such a development, the rules are also much clearer and more transparent and there is no need for owners to worry about imposing on neighbours as they ought to share the same dream of playing Airbnb hosts - whether by renting out a room or a whole unit - according to industry regulations and their condominium's by-laws.

Suffice to say, the market should find its own level here without any need for Singapore to copy residential market rules in other countries.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 01, 2018, with the headline 'Short-term rentals at private properties can throw up a host of operational issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe