SINGAPORE: Home and room-renting site Airbnb said it is "committed to working with the Government to adopt a model of home-sharing that works for Singapore" even as laws prohibit private property owners from renting out their homes for less than six months.
On Monday (Feb 6), National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament that the Government is considering creating a new class of homes where short-term rentals are approved.
In a statement to Channel NewsAsia, a spokesperson for Airbnb said it recognises that Singapore has "unique needs and challenges".
"We have repeatedly offered our support to relevant agencies to develop a framework that promotes responsible home-sharing. Nearly two years since the URA's public consultation, it’s disappointing that the discussion has not moved forward," Airbnb said.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) had launched a public feedback exercise in January 2015 on whether private residential properties in Singapore should be allowed to be used for short-term stays.
Airbnb said a Bill passed in Parliament laying out penalties for unlawful short-term rentals is not compatible with Singapore's vision "to stay ahead in an age of disruption and innovation". Under the law, home owners who flout the rules on short-term rentals face a fine of up to S$200,000 or jail for up to a year.
Said Airbnb: "More than 50 per cent of hosts in Singapore are sharing their primary residence - the home in which they live. For a lot of Singaporeans, the opportunity to list their home on Airbnb - for an average of S$5,000 per year - makes a real difference paying off the mortgage, electricity bills and other daily expenses."
The company added that it supports "a common sense approach to regulation that helps these hosts share their extra space".
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia in October 2015, Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk had said he hoped there would be a policy change in Singapore that would allow public and private homeowners to become Airbnb hosts. Mr Blecharczyk said then that his company democratises travel accommodation for both travellers and hosts.
According to its website, Airbnb is active in more than 34,000 cities and has more than 2 million listings worldwide.