SINGAPORE: Two Singaporeans on trial for unauthorised short-term rentals posted on Airbnb pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Feb 27) in the first such cases under rules on short-term property letting introduced last year.
The two men were charged for renting out four units at a condominium for less than six months without permission from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
Terence Tan En Wei, 35, and Yao Song Liang, 34, rented out the units in three different blocks at the D'Leedon condominium at 9 Leedon Heights in the Farrer Road area.
The premises “was occupied by the same person(s) for a period of less than six consecutive months in return for the payment of rent”, in breach of regulations, court documents stated.
The men face a fine of up to S$200,000 on each charge. Prosecutors however requested fines of S$20,000 per charge for a total of S$80,000 for each of the two defendants, who spoke in court to plead guilty to the charges. Defence lawyers sought fines of US$5,000 per charge.
The minimum rental period for private homes in Singapore is three months, meaning typical short-term lettings on platforms like Airbnb are prohibited.
URA has said it will take action against anyone found letting out property for short-term accommodation. This may include the home owner, tenant or any intermediaries such as property agents.
The Singapore Government said in Parliament in February last year that it is looking at creating a new class of private homes which would be approved specifically for short-term rentals.
Airbnb, founded in 2008 in San Francisco, matches people wishing to rent out all or part of their homes to temporary guests.
The firm has clashed with hoteliers and authorities in cities including New York, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, which are limiting short-term rentals in some cases.
Critics blame Airbnb for exacerbating housing shortages and driving out lower-income residents.