Scope for short-term accommodation in Singapore: Lawrence Wong

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
PHOTO: AFP/Lionel Bonaventure

There is scope to allow short-term accommodations in private homes in Singapore, subject to proper safeguards and controls, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Tuesday (6 February).

Wong told the House that his ministry and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) have had discussions with various stakeholders on the issue, including homeowners, hotel operators and home-sharing platform Airbnb. All of them have “different views”.

“Nevertheless, from these discussions, we believe there is scope to allow short-term accommodations in Singapore, subject to proper safeguards and controls. We are working out these regulatory parameters and will consult the public on the proposes measures before finalising them,” said Wong.

The Minister’s remarks are the latest development in a long-running debate over the legality of Airbnb and similar platforms. In February 2017, during the parliamentary debate on the Planning (Amendment) Bill, Wong told the house that URA is studying the option of creating a new category of private homes that will be allowed for short-term rentals.

But there appears to be a long way to go before the legalisation of short-term accommodation. In the same session last year, Parliament passed a new law to ban home owners from renting out their properties on a short-term basis unless they obtain permission from URA. Under the same law, the rental period for a private residential property must be at least three consecutive months.

Many Airbnb users typically pay home owners to stay in their properties for days or weeks.

Last December, two men were charged for renting out their condominium units for short-term stay via Airbnb, in the first such case in Singapore involving rentals through the home-sharing platform.

In a written answer to a parliamentary question on Monday, MND also revealed that some 20,000 Singaporeans, permanent residents and foreigners own three to 10 private residential properties in Singapore. Less than 200 own more than 10 of such properties.

Of these private residential property owners, 15 per cent also own a HDB flat.

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