On Monday, a new law was passed in the Singapore parliament that makes short-term home or room rentals illegal, unless with URA permission. This puts to rest any misconception that short-term rentals are permitted for private property.
2016 saw a 61% rise in the number of complaints related to short-term rentals, even as the URA continues to explore how to permit services like Airbnb to operate in Singapore's regulated real estate market. Some proposed changes to the current regulation include the reducing of the minimum lease period from the current 6-month length, and a new category of residential housing for short-term rentals.
In the meantime, URA officers now have more power to investigate and prosecute overcrowded rental properties and short-term rental violations - including the power to enter suspected premises for inspection. To quote National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, this new law will "make sure that the issue does not worsen further".
Short-term rentals have been a sticky point for the authorities to manage, as they balance disruptive innovation with market regulation. While public housing is closely monitored, owners of private property has generally been dealt with a lighter touch until now. It shouldn't come as a surprise though - URA has regularly warned private homeowners against it.
A quick check on Airbnb shows hundreds of listings, which seems to be the tip of the iceberg. On forums and social media channels, there is a bustling online scene where homeowners advertise rental units for weekly leases, and budget-conscious tenants negotiate rent via private messages. Unsurprisingly, much of these transactions are partly to avoid paying agent commission, and with the assumption that there is safety in numbers.
If the new law is anything to go by, I hope these homeowners will reconsider their approach to finding tenants directly. The rental market may be slow and tenants may be demanding... but it certainly isn't worth a hefty fine or jail time.
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Mostly startup and tech stuff. An occasional rant or two. Travel-related articles are published on my other blog.