SINGAPORE: Two men were charged on Tuesday (Oct 5) after 39 people, including migrant workers, were found living in two shophouses, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
Lau Liang Thye, 42, was charged with 11 counts of abetting employers to house migrant workers in unacceptable accommodation and one count of illegally employing a migrant worker without a valid work pass.
These offences are punishable under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
Lau was also charged under the Planning Act with three counts of unauthorised development of private residential units. This was for allegedly converting private residential units into unauthorised dormitory accommodation.
In addition, Tay Kim Kiat, 58, was charged under the Planning Act with three counts of unauthorised development of private residential units.
"This is for converting a private residential unit to provide unauthorised dormitory accommodation and for permitting Lau to provide dormitory accommodation at another two units," said MOM and URA.
39 OCCUPANTS IN TWO SHOPHOUSES
On Dec 3, 2018, MOM and URA officers jointly inspected a pair of three-storey shophouses at 32 and 34 Lorong 23 Geylang.
During the inspection, the authorities discovered 39 people living in the two units, which had been partitioned. This exceeded URA's occupancy cap rules of no more than six unrelated occupants at each of the private residential premises.
"Investigations revealed that Lau rented the second and third floors of the two premises from Tay and sublet it to other tenants including 22 migrant workers," said MOM and URA.
"In addition, Lau had allegedly sublet partitioned rooms on the rooftop of the two premises without Tay’s knowledge."
Following the joint inspection, the employers of the migrant workers were ordered to relocate all affected workers to "proper and approved accommodation" within two weeks, said the authorities.
Lau is also accused of employing one of the tenants, 46-year-old Chinese national Zhu Guangpeng, as a housekeeper and rent collector, in exchange for a reduction in his rent. Zhu did not have a valid work pass to do so, said MOM and URA.
Under URA regulations, private residential properties are currently subject to an occupancy cap of six unrelated people. All occupants must also stay for a minimum of three consecutive months.
"Property owners should exercise due diligence to ensure that their properties are not used by their tenants for unauthorised purposes," said the authorities.
"Private homeowners who have rented out their residential properties should verify the names of work pass holders registered to be residing at their addresses using the foreign worker tenant enquiry service.
"Doing so ensures that their properties are rented out responsibly and not misused. Homeowners should physically check their premises periodically for fire hazards and overcrowding."
Employers are also required by law to ensure that their migrant workers live at "acceptable accommodation" that complies with statutory requirements, said MOM and URA.
Employers who fail to do so would have committed offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. If convicted, employers may be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to 12 months, or both, for each charge.