Home-owner sentenced to 7 months' jail for renting out flat to overstayer

A home-owner was sentenced to seven months in jail on Oct 17 for renting out her Sims Drive flat to a male Bangladesh national who was staying in Singapore illegally.

He claimed he was a work permit holder and paid Mariam Abdullah $250 a month to stay at her flat. Mariam, 50, did not check with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) or the Ministry of Manpower before renting out her unit to him. She was arrested on Oct 9 at her home by ICA officers.

Under the Immigration Act, homeowners found guilty of harbouring immigration offenders may be sentenced to an imprisonment of between six months to two years, and a fine not exceeding $6,000 - or both.

On Oct 24, the 23-year-old Bangladesh national was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison and five strokes of the cane. Foreigners who overstay more than 90 days or who enter the country illegally can be jailed up to six months and be sentenced to a minimum of three strokes of the cane under the Immigration Act. In lieu of caning, offenders can be fined not more than $6,000.

In a press release on Wednesday, the ICA advised homeowners to exercise due diligence to ensure prospective foreign tenants are staying in Singapore legally.

Homeowners should conduct three compulsory checks, said the ICA:

a) Check his/her original immigration/workpass;

b) Cross check the particulars on his/her pass against the particulars on his/her original passport;

c) Verify the validity of his/her pass by checking with the issuing authority (either ICA for student's pass and visit pass, or the Ministry of Manpower for work passes). The validity of immigration passes can also be checked using the ICA online system, iEnquiry, which is available through the ICA website at www.ica.gov.sg

Members of the public can contact the ICA at 1800-391-6150 during office hours should they have any information about immigration offenders.

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