Quicker enforcement needed against illegal short-term rentals

I empathise with some of the challenges the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) faces in enforcing the rules against illegal short-term rentals in the private housing market ("URA will investigate short-term rental cases"; Dec 15).

Unfortunately, the URA seems to be taking too long in cracking down on a major culprit of the home-sharing phenomenon - online agents like Airbnb.

What is holding the URA back from demanding their transaction records to weed out culprits?

Is it not clear to such operators that short-term rentals are illegal here?

The trade's illegality is probably the principle reason why the average turnover on these home-sharing sites appears low currently ("S'pore Airbnb host 'makes about $5,000 a year'"; Dec 6).

Sites like Airbnb do not do enough to mitigate the many concerns. For example, how do they ensure that their clients do not turn their assets into prostitution, gambling and terrorist dens and, in the process, tarnish the estate?

Who bears the range of costs that will inevitably crop up when private condominiums also operate as hotels?

Unlike the case with hotels and serviced apartments, the management and security teams at condominiums are not equipped to deal with such possibilities. The safeguards for liability management in short-term leases also leave much to be desired.

Whether the market's potential for home-sharing is $600 million or $600 billion is immaterial to home owners who want to keep their estate a "private sanctuary" in one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Singapore has a steady supply of hotel rooms, serviced apartments and certified tour guides/hosts to give visitors a holistic experience of our city and its attractions - with or without the hype generated by online agents like Airbnb.

Toh Cheng Seong