It is illegal for homeowners in Singapore to sublet their houses to tourists.
There appears to be growing tensions over users of short-term rental services like Airbnb, with the latest case involving a woman who went to great lengths just to take her neighbour to task for accommodating guests via the popular home-sharing website, reported TODAYonline.
Madam Wendy Ng, Managing Director of an air-conditioning company, said the frequent comings-and-goings of guests at the four-storey terraced house next to hers made her feel insecure over the neighbourhood’s security.
Ng, who lives in a terraced house at Penaga Place in Sembawang, revealed that she had postponed or cancelled all of her company’s jobs over the past two months in order to deal with the problem, which started two years ago.
“Every time, (there are) different faces, that means their faces are not local … so we feel insecure,” she said, adding that some guests left or returned to the house in the middle of the night.
Last August, Ng raised the issue with the Member of Parliament of her constituency, Khaw Boon Wan, who also serves as Transport Minister.
Thereafter, officers from the URA’s appointed agent, Certis Cisco, tried to inspect her neighbour’s place, but the house was locked.
Taking a different course of action, Ng hired a private investigator in May to gather photographic and videographic evidence of what was really going on in the property for a week. She submitted the investigator’s report to the URA on 8 July.
Although the assignment cost her “a few thousand” dollars, Ng said she was willing to spend this “expensive” sum.
Ng also filed a petition asking the authorities to take “immediate action against the errant owner”.
While the petition has been signed by 37 residents, some said they were not affected by the guests.
“It’s part and parcel of living in a community. The complaint has no standing,” said Raymond Lee, who lives across from Ng.
Urging for mutual respect, 31-year-old housewife Fadilah Ishak said her family’s safety and security were not compromised.
Notably, complaints by disgruntled homeowners like Ng have been growing steadily in the last three years.
In the first half of this year alone, the URA said it received 259 complaints on short-term stays. It also received 231, 375 and 377 complaints in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.
A public consultation exercise was conducted last year in order to seek feedback on whether to allow short-term stays in private homes. The URA, however, noted that the exercise did not bring about a “clear consensus”.
While the public acknowledged the need to accommodate the growing demand for short-term rentals, they also strongly endorsed the existing rules of the URA, which are meant “preserve the privacy and sanctity valued by the vast majority of homeowners”.
As such, the agency said it needs more time to study the matter and reiterated that the six-month rule for private home stays “must be observed”.