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Friday, 2 May 2014

More renting out homes illegally like hotels

There has been a 73% increase in cases of illegal short-term leasing of houses last year.

There has been a 73% increase in cases of illegal short-term leasing of houses last year.

More people are renting out their homes for short periods, despite the growing awareness that it is illegal.

The Housing Board investigated 184 cases of short-term leasing in public flats last year, a 73% increase from 106 cases the year before.

It also received around 45 complaints about suspected cases from 2012 to last year.

Violators may lose their flats and get fined if they are found guilty of renting out spaces for less than six months.

Private home owners are not exempt from the six-month rule. They can be fined up to S$200,000 (RM521,400) and be jailed up to 12 months.

The authorities say that such short-term rentals are banned as they might disturb neighbours in residential estates.

An Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) spokesman added that most residents prefer “familiarity” and not to live among “transient strangers”.

But that has not stopped more online advertisements offering these short-term rentals, which span a few days to months, from sprouting.

Roomorama’s co-founder Teo Jia En, 32, said that her home-rental portal has more than 500 listings for Singapore properties, an increase of about 30% compared to last year.

Turochas Fuad, 39, chief executive and co-founder of travelmob, a similar website, also noted an “increased adoption of hosts and listings” across Asia Pacific, though he declined to provide numbers for Singapore.

The URA looked into about 2,100 unauthorised uses of private residences last year, up from 1,300 cases in 2011.

These numbers include both short-term leases and unauthorised conversions of private properties into dormitories or boarding houses.

But owners and tenants, many of whom sublet their homes to help pay their mortgage or rent and to meet new people, said that they have not received any complaints from neighbours.

“They are very supportive,” said a 40-year-old business owner who has been renting out a room in her Novena condominium on Airbnb since June 2012.

“It’s such an incredible opportunity to meet people from all over the world without leaving your living room,” said a 29-year-old marketing manager who started subletting the master bedroom in her four-room Chinatown HDB flat last December.

Apart from tourists, some of her guests are students or those here on work attachments who stay for weeks. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Tags / Keywords: singapore , housing board , private owners , hotel , illegal


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