Homeowners caught flouting the rules on short-term stays can be jailed for up to a year, or fined up to $200,000.
Despite its on-going review of short-term stays, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has taken enforcement action against 44 unauthorised short-term subletting cases in private homes during the first six months of 2016, reported The Business Times.
This is an increase from the 23 cases in 2015 and 36 in the year before, revealed the Ministry of National Development (MND) in its written response to a query from Member of Parliament Lim Wee Kiak.
“Once the URA confirms a case of unauthorised short-term subletting, it sends an enforcement notice to the offender requiring the unauthorised use to cease. In the vast majority of cases, offenders have complied with the URA’s notices and there has been no need to undertake further action against them,” the agency said.
Meanwhile, a conclusion is yet to be reached on the much-debated topic of the home-sharing economy. In fact, current URA guidelines requiring private homes to be rented out for at least six months still apply. Those flouting the rules can be jailed for up to one year, or fined up to $200,000.
The MND noted that the short-term rental issue warrants a balanced and careful review without a rush to conclude.
“In particular, we must carefully consider the implications of doing so, given the potential impact and disamenity of such rentals on neighbouring residents.”
In January 2015, the URA conducted a public consultation exercise, which concluded in April of the same year. After more than a year, the URA said it needs more time to consider the said issue.
The Housing and Development Board (HDB), on the other hand, has indicated that it has no plans to review the rules on short-term stays for HDB flats.
While the URA has not made a decision on the issue, there are still many local listings of private homes for short-term stay on HomeAway and Airbnb. Some accommodation service providers – which furnish flats they rented from landlords and sublet them with limited services – reportedly rent out such units for less than six months.
Such rentals have irked hoteliers as they are not subject to similar business taxes and safety regulations. And since they incur higher costs, commercially run hotels are unable to compete on price with private room rentals.