Short-term rentals to remain illegal in Singapore

Singapore: The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has announced short-term rental platform listings will remain illegal in Singapore after almost four years of discussions.

Travellers staying at private residential properties in the country will still be required to stay for a minimum of three months.

The URA said it would not proceed with applying regulations due to a supposed “impasse” on the proposed rules between the position of home-sharing platforms and concerns raised by over a thousand private homeowners surveyed by the authority between August and November 2018.

Last year, the URA made proposals which included a requirement for 80 per cent of homeowners to consent to short-term rentals in a condo development, and an annual cap of 90 days for a unit to be used for short-term accommodation.

The URA said it would be willing to review its position “if and when platform operators demonstrate that they are prepared to adhere to the regulatory framework”.

After revealing the findings from its survey, the authority said the majority of those surveyed believed that short-term rentals would have a negative impact on other residents:

  • Almost seven in ten participants said short-term rentals would raise security concerns in their estate (68 per cent) and would result in a loss of privacy (67 per cent) for residents
  • More than six in ten thought short-term occupants would misbehave and cause noise and other disturbances
  • Over half (56 per cent) felt such occupants may damage common facilities
  • Around seven in ten (69 per cent) supported the 80-per-cent threshold for consent in a strata-titled development, and the 90-day annual cap on short-term stays
  • Seven per cent said they would let out their homes if short-term rentals were allowed.

Real estate company Cushman and Wakefield’s head of research for Singapore and South-East Asia, Christine Li, told Today Online: “The decision is rather unsurprising although it took several years for the government to come to such a decision.”

Li called it a “sensible move” to safeguard the interests of residents in private properties, adding that their concerns were genuine as Singapore is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Li also said the decision would help to support demand for mid-tier and economy hotels from leisure travellers. While limited growth is expected in hotel room supply in the coming years, it will help to maintain hotel occupancy and room rates as a result.

Airbnb’s head of public policy for South-East Asia, Mich Goh, said: “After nearly four years of consultation, it is disappointing that the discussion has not moved forward.”

Goh added that Airbnb remains committed to working with the government in Singapore to find a solution for its community of hosts and guests who use the rental platform.

In recent years, various governments have permitted short-term rentals and “by sticking with the status quo, Singapore remains the exception”, said Goh.

Airbnb said its tools help hosts to comply with local laws and added that it was open to working with the government to adapt the tools in a way that will support home-sharing platforms in Singapore.

In its statement, the URA said several platform operators felt the proposed rules were “overly restrictive” and wanted a “lighter touch approach”.

The statement read: “It is understandable that the platform operators would be driven by their commercial imperatives, but it is not tenable for URA to allow a more relaxed regulatory framework that does not address the concerns raised by Singaporeans.”

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