Airbnb hopes to one day list HDB flats on site

Romesh Navaratnarajah8 Oct 2015

Bishan Town

While home and room-renting site Airbnb saw over 30 million people book travel accommodation with them this year, tourists will not find “Singapore public housing apartment” or “Singapore HDB” on the website’s drop down list of home types, reported Channel News Asia.

This is because HDB flat owners are not allowed to sublet their units to tourists.

But this isn’t stopping Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk from hoping that a policy change will open up options for private and public homeowners to become Airbnb hosts to the over one million tourists arriving in the city-state each month this year.

Blecharczyk noted that Singapore is “currently undergoing a review process of the policies so that’s for them to decide, but I certainly think there is a case to be made for, even in public housing. Airbnb could benefit the citizens of Singapore.”

Back in January, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced that a public feedback exercise was underway to assess whether Singapore’s private homes should be allowed to be used for short-term stays such as those promoted on Airbnb. The survey’s outcome, which solely focused on private homes and not public flats, has yet to be announced. Earlier this year, however, then-National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan shared in a blog post that he disapproved of home-sharing within HDB towns.

“While it earns extra income for the homeowners, their neighbours would not like to see their quiet neighbourhood becoming a hotel district. I, myself, think it’s not a good idea,” Mr Khaw wrote.

Airbnb has had its share of criticism across the globe, particularly with regard to safety issues.

Blecharczyk explained that his firm democratises travel accommodation for both the hosts and traveller, adding that homeowners stand to benefit from added income.

“This is an opportunity for regular people to earn a supplementary income and I think that is an opportunity that is just as important for those who own private homes in Singapore as it is to those who live in public housing. Those are the middle-class or below-middle-class people who can really benefit from a few extra dollars,” he said.


Romesh Navaratnarajah, Singapore Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories email


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