Airbnb-style short-term home sharing still illegal, 3-month minimum period continues to apply for private homes: URA

Based on a national survey commissioned by URA, the majority of Singaporeans supported the proposed regulatory framework for STA. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will not be going ahead with proposed changes to the rules for short-term stays in private homes after extensive consultations since 2015 with diverse groups of stakeholders.

It announced on Wednesday morning (May 8) that the minimum stay duration of three months will continue to apply.

This means short-term accommodation of less than three consecutive months remains illegal.

The authority had considered a draft regulatory framework proposed last April to allow owners at strata-titled developments to accommodate short-term stays if they get 80 per cent consent from owners.

The framework also required owners to register their properties with the URA, and to abide by an annual cap of 90 days per unit for short term stays, among other requirements.

Based on a national survey commissioned by the URA in the second half of 2018, the majority of more than 1,000 private homeowners surveyed supported the proposed rules.

Only 7 per cent expressed an intention to let out their homes or investment properties if short-term stays of less than three months were allowed in future.

However, several home-sharing platform operators said that the proposed rules were overly restrictive, and wanted a lighter touch approach.

Given this impasse, the URA said it will not proceed with the proposed regulations at this stage.
Instead, it will continue to monitor the situation as well as broader developments on the short-term accommodation scene.

"URA remains open to reviewing the position in future, if and when platform operators demonstrate that they are prepared to adhere to the regulatory framework," the URA said in its statement.

Ms Mich Goh, Airbnb's head of public policy for South-east Asia, called the announcement "disappointing" but said the firm remains committed to working with the government.

"After nearly four years of consultation, it is disappointing that the discussion has not moved forward.

"During that time, governments around the world, all with their own unique challenges, have put in place sustainable rules and regulations that reflect how people want to travel in the 21st century," she told The Straits Times.

"These laws differ from country to country, but what they all have in common is that they provide a pathway for hosts to share their properties with travellers. By sticking with the status quo, Singapore remains the exception.

"We have repeatedly provided our support to local authorities to help develop new rules and expressed our deep commitment to work with our community to ensure these regulations work and short-term rental activity is conducted responsibly and sustainably," she said.

Airbnb host Mr Yang, who prefers to be known only by one name, said: "It's disappointing to see how very little has changed even after multiple rounds of face-to-face consultations and surveys with residents in Singapore.

"From experience, it is definitely possible to host guests responsibly without causing disamenity to other residents.

He said it is about hosts making sure guests follow the rules of the neighbourhood, submit their passport details and contact numbers for added security, and keeping such accommodations to a small and easily manageable scale in the neighbourhoods.

"Hosting is not for everybody, but for those of us who are happy to welcome foreigners to Singapore, it's a chance to show them how amazing our country is," he said.

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