Man held over suspected harbouring offences

A 35-year-old Chinese national who allegedly rented out a Toa Payoh flat to 15 occupants has been arrested by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for suspected harbouring offences.

He had provided an overstayer, a 40-year-old male Chinese national, with a place to stay.

The latter was also arrested for overstaying in Singapore after his work permit had been cancelled.

The ICA raided the flat, which had three bedrooms, in Toa Payoh Lorong 2 at about 6am on Monday, the authority said yesterday.

The flat had been rented out to 15 occupants, which included the overstayer, 13 valid pass holders and a Singaporean.

ICA officers discovered two illegally partitioned bedrooms in the living room of the flat.

Investigations are ongoing.

The ICA said it takes a serious view of attempts to overstay, enter or depart from Singapore illegally.

The penalties for overstaying or illegal entry are a jail term of up to six months plus at least three strokes of the cane.

The ICA advised home owners to exercise due diligence in checking the status of their prospective foreign tenants to ensure that their status in Singapore is legal.

Those who wish to rent their premises to a foreigner must conduct three mandatory checks: check his original immigration or work pass; cross-check the particulars on his pass against the particulars on his original passport; and verify the validity of his pass by checking with the issuing authority.

If a home owner is found guilty of knowingly harbouring overstayers or illegal immigrants, he can be sentenced to between six months' and two years' jail, and a fine of up to $6,000.

Home owners face the same penalties if they are found guilty of recklessly harbouring overstayers or illegal immigrants.

"Reckless" here applies if a home owner carries out only one of the three mandatory due-diligence checks.

If the home owner conducts only two of the three checks, this is considered negligent harbouring of overstayers or illegal immigrants.

The penalties for this are a fine of up to $6,000 and/or a jail term of up to 12 months.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2018, with the headline 'Man held over suspected harbouring offences'. Print Edition | Subscribe