Stay with current short-term rental rules

I take my hat off to the Ministry of National Development (MND) for deciding on making Airbnb-style rentals illegal.

It will certainly prevent residential estates from having to put up with unwelcome transient visitors.

However, the plan to look into shortening the minimum rental period and creating a new category of homes for short-term rental is worrying ("Govt to seek views on home rentals for short term"; Feb 13). It seems to imply an extension of the system into an Airbnb type of model and widening the range of tenants, leaving no one to check and ensure that valid tenants and agreements are in place.

Medical tourists (an example cited) staying in residential estates are a concern. No one knows what illnesses these tourists would bring to the estate. The benefits may not outweigh the costs in the event of a Sars-type outbreak.

Currently, only valid employment pass holders, students, permanent residents or citizens may rent residential units from owners or real estate agents, after they are screened for validity and have proper documents for the tenancy agreement signed.

Opening residential estates to new categories of tenants would complicate these checks.

Furthermore, is there much to be gained by this aspect of the sharing economy? Looking at the rental car/taxi market, jobs are being cannibalised rather than created.

Also, why should the other long-term residents pay the cost of an owner's short-term, disruptive rental gains?

Ultimately, residential estates are not marked for commercial use.

The new considerations seem to steer towards changing the rules and regulations to accommodate new players in the sharing economy.

I urge the MND and Urban Redevelopment Authority not to make any changes, as this will contradict the decision they have just taken.

Alfred Yap

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2017, with the headline 'Stay with current short-term rental rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe