URA detected 800 occupancy cap infringements since 2017

Victor Kang3 Sep 2019

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Development also revealed that the URA has investigated an average of around 600 suspected cases of illegal short-term accommodation per year in the last five years.

With the tightening of the occupancy cap for private homes from eight to six persons in 2017, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has detected and enforced against about 800 such infringements since then.

In a written reply to Parliament on Monday (2 September), the Ministry of National Development said penalties for such infringements are calibrated based on the severity of the offence.

URA, for instance, may issue a composition fine for marginal breaches and stiffer penalties via prosecution for more serious cases.

“Any person found guilty can be fined up to $200,000 or face imprisonment of up to 12 months,” it said.

In the event property agents were involved in the offence, URA and the Council for Estate Agents (CEA) will take action, which could lead to the agent being barred for a period of time. The Ministry of Manpower will also take enforcement action against errant foreign workers and employers involved in such offences.

Meanwhile, the ministry revealed that the URA has investigated an average of around 600 suspected cases of illegal short-term accommodation per year in the last five years.

In fact, 14 individuals have been issued composition fines, while 10 recalcitrant offenders were charged in court.

It noted that the offenders include both the tenants and property owners, and come from a wide range of age groups, most of which are Singaporeans.

“URA has found that while some offenders are responsible for a large number of STA listings, they typically do not own those properties, but instead rent from the owners and then sublet them illegally to short-term occupants,” said MND.

“For such cases, property owners will also be held liable for the infringements occurring in their properties, even if the offending use was carried out by the tenant.”

A composition fine of up to $5,000 will be issued to those renting out homes on a casual basis and caught for the first time.

“For recalcitrant offenders and those who undertake STA operations on a commercial basis, URA will prosecute them in court and seek significantly higher penalties.”

Of the 10 recalcitrant offenders, four have been fined between $13,000 and $70,000, while the other six face over 80 charges, and their cases are currently before the court.

In another written reply, the ministry noted that both local and foreign developers were bidding more aggressively for land between the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018, on the back of improved market sentiments.

It underscored that such bidding behaviour was not limited to Chinese developers only, who made up less than 10 percent of the private residential sites sold through en bloc sales and the Government Land Sales programme during such period.

In fact, the winning bids by Chinese developers were comparable to those of other developers, while the construction quality of their projects was comparable to that of the national average.

“The government will continue to monitor trends in the property market, and adjust our policies as necessary, to provide good quality homes, and maintain a stable and sustainable property market.”

Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg


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