Singapore has fined two Airbnb hosts who broke the country’s rules on apartment rentals.
In a first for the country, two men were fined SG$60,000 (US$45,800) each for unauthorized lettings at four apartments using the U.S.-based rental platform, Reuters reports. Singapore’s law prevents public housing rentals that are under six months — or three months in the case of private housing — without the explicit permission of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
The fines come as the URA is working to figure out how to work with short-term leasing platforms like Airbnb. The organization is currently developing a proposed regulatory framework and there are plans for a public consultation component that would allow homeowners and the likes of Airbnb, rival HomeAway and others to provide input.
“The issue of short-term accommodation in private homes is complex and multi-faceted, and has wide-ranging implications. It will take some time to work through the consultation process and to amend legislation, if necessary, for the new rules to take effect,” the URA said in a letter published by Singapore’s Straits Times.
“We welcome the statements of several home-sharing platform operators that they would like to work with the Government on this matter, and look forward to their input during the consultation process,” it added.
“We look forward to obtaining greater clarity for our community following the upcoming public consultation,” Mich Goh, Airbnb’s head of public policy for Southeast Asia, told Reuters in a statement.
Space is at a premium in Singapore, which is ranked by World Bank as one of the world’s most densely populated countries. Not only that, but the country is often named as the most expensive place in the world for expats. No wonder, then, that short-term leasing options are popular despite existing in a legal grey area.