SINGAPORE: Private apartment and condominium owners who want to rent out their homes for short-term accommodation will be able to do so for 90 days a year provided they fulfil several requirements, including obtaining 80 per cent consent from owners within a development and registering their guests' details.
These are some of the suggestions the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) proposed on Monday (Apr 16) in a regulatory framework for using private homes as short-term accommodation (STA).
"After studying the issue for some time, we think it is possible to allow such STAs in private residential properties, but subject to appropriate regulation and safeguards," said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Facebook, adding that the government has been very "cautious" about allowing STAs.
"In our compact, high-rise living environment, we always have to be careful about creating any potential disamenities or impacting the residential nature of our neighbourhoods," he said.
In 2015, URA conducted a public consultation exercise to better understand the public’s views on using private homes for short-term accommodation, such as those being offered on Airbnb's website.
The authority said on Monday: "Following a review of the feedback received, URA has worked with relevant agencies to develop a framework to regulate the use of private residential properties for short-term accommodation."
It is seeking public feedback on the suggestions, with the closing date for submissions on May 31.
NEW SHORT-TERM ACCOMMODATION USE CATEGORY
In its proposal, URA suggested a "new use category" of short-term accommodation for private residential properties. Property owners would have to agree for this category to be applied to their private properties.
"For non-strata-titled properties (i.e. developments without Management Corporations, MCSTs), the owner(s) can decide on the matter, and put in an application to URA to be registered as STA, subject to the requirements highlighted below.
"For strata-titled properties (i.e. those governed by an MCST) such as apartments and condominiums, it is necessary to get the views of all strata-titled property owners, as each owner owns a share of the common property, as provided for in the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA)," URA proposed.
URA said it recognised that it may not be practical to get a 100 per cent consensus from the owners and suggested that 80 per cent support of a short-term accommodation application would suffice.
URA also said that it is "unlikely to approve" short-term accommodation use in landed housing estates that are located in areas that are relatively quiet with narrow estate roads.
"There is no MCST-like governance structure and the presence of STA will have greater impact on residents," it said.
"COMMITTED TO REASONABLE SOLUTIONS":AIRBNB
URA's announcement comes as home-booking company Airbnb said in March that it was willing to make some concessions on short-term rentals in Singapore.
This came after two Singaporean Airbnb hosts pleaded guilty to unauthorised short-term letting in the first such cases under new rules introduced in Singapore last year on short-term property letting. They were fined a total of S$60,000 each.
Airbnb on Monday said that they are "committed to reasonable solutions that will allow responsible home sharing to thrive in Singapore" and welcome the opportunity to provide feedback through the consultation process.
"This public consultation is an important step for the significant number of locals who want to share their homes, and travellers who want a unique and authentic experience when they visit Singapore," said Mich Goh, Airbnb head of public policy for Southeast Asia.
90-DAY ANNUAL RENTAL CAP
One of the suggestions proposed by URA is to allow owners to rent out their properties for a maximum of 90 days a year, and ensure a maximum occupancy of six persons at any one time.
Owners will be required to register their properties with URA before listing the unit for short-term accommodation, comply with fire safety requirements, and provide guest details for each stay.
Industry watchers noted, however, that only a small pool of properties will likely gain approval for short-term accommodation use, considering that URA has already stated that it is unlikely to approve landed properties and the potential difficulty for apartment and condo owners to obtain the required consent from their neighbours.
"As it is rather unlikely that 80 per cent of owners (by share value) in a particular development purchased their unit with the intention to offer short-term rentals, the required consensus level will probably not be achieved easily," said Ms Christine Li, head of research at Cushman & Wakefield Singapore.
Those who do seek 80 per cent consensus, Ms Li added, would likely have to offer significant concessions such as paying significantly higher maintenance fees to offset the disamenities resulting from transient tenants.