SINGAPORE: The minimum rental period for private homes has been lowered from six to three months, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced in a press release on Friday (Jun 30).
However, short-term rentals of less than three consecutive months, including those through online home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb and Roomorama, are still not allowed.
The move comes amid growing demand from groups seeking accommodation for periods of between three to six months, URA said. These include academics and students visiting local institutions of higher learning, and professionals on work assignments.
The minimum stay duration of six months was put in place in 2009.
“The feedback from this group has been that they prefer private residential properties, considering their choice of locations, range in unit sizes, and financial affordability, over hotels and serviced apartments,” URA said.
The revised minimum stay duration will provide these groups with more accommodation options, and also provide more rental opportunities for property owners, it said.
A public consultation on short-term stays conducted in 2015 also showed that the majority of respondents were supportive of a reduction in the minimum stay duration, URA said.
IMPORTANT TO PRESERVE RESIDENTIAL CHARACTER: URA
URA said it has assessed that a minimum stay duration of three months is an “appropriate limit” which is unlikely to significantly impact residential communities.
It will monitor developments closely and assess the need for a further review, it added.
In February, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong told Parliament that private residential properties should not be used for other purposes without planning approval, as there is a need to safeguard the living environment of residents in the neighbourhood.
“Over the past year, URA has already seen a 60 per cent rise in complaints from home owners about breaches of this rule in their residential properties. The complaints related to public nuisance or even safety concerns for their families,” he said.
IMPACT ON MARKET "MINIMAL": ANALYST
According to Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at SLP International, the impact of the revised minimum stay duration on the the private residential property rental market would be minimal.
"This is partly because some landlords are already leasing out their residential units to tenants that are staying shorter than six months even before the new rule was announced today," said Mr Mak.
However, he added that one segment that will be adversely affected is the serviced apartment market, which is already under pressure from a competitive hotel market and lower expatriate housing budgets.
"This new revised three-month minimum rental lease would increase the competitive pressure on the serviced apartment segment," he said.
Separately, URA said it is reviewing guidelines to facilitate short-term rentals and intends to conduct a public consultation to seek feedback on this issue.
Airbnb said in February that it is committed to working with the Government to adopt a model of home-sharing that works for Singapore. This was in response to the Government announcing that it was looking at creating a new class of private homes which would be approved specifically for short-term rentals.
Home owners who breach the minimum three-month period for renting or subletting their home face a fine of up to S$200,000 or jail for up to a year.