Singapore court fines two Airbnb hosts for unauthorised short-term letting

Singapore court fines two Airbnb hosts for unauthorised short-term letting

Singapore Airbnb hosts d'Leedon
Composite photo taken on Feb 27, 2018 shows real estate agents Yao Songliang (left) and Terence Tan En Wei (right) leaving the State Court in Singapore. The two Singaporeans pleaded guilty to unauthorised short-term lending by letting out apartments on Airbnb. (Photo: Roslan RAHMAN/AFP)

SINGAPORE: Two Singaporean Airbnb hosts who pleaded guilty in court to unauthorised short-term letting were fined a total of S$60,000 each on Tuesday (Apr 3), in the first such cases under the country's rules on short-term property letting introduced last year.

The two men, 35-year-old Terence Tan En Wei and 34-year-old Yao Song Liang, 34, pleaded guilty in February for letting four units in a condominium for less than six months without permission from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). They were charged in December last year.

They faced a fine of up to S$200,000 per charge.

Prosecutors sought fines of S$20,000 per charge for a total of S$80,000 for each of the two defendants. Defence lawyers sought fines of S$5,000 per charge.

Judge Kenneth Choo on Tuesday fined the two hosts S$15,000 per charge each. He said the fines would serve as a signal to deter others from pursuing such business to make a quick profit.

Private homes in Singapore are subject to a minimum rental period of three consecutive months, while for public housing, home to about 80 per cent of Singapore's residents, it is six months.

The URA has said it would conduct a public consultation to seek feedback on a proposed regulatory framework for short-term letting.

In March, Airbnb said it was willing to make some concessions on short-term rentals in Singapore in an attempt to appease concerns of the government. 

Wong Soo Chih, the two hosts' lawyer, said they paid their fines on the spot.

Airbnb did not have an immediate comment. 

Source: Reuters/CNA/ng/nc