Airbnb screenshot

Up to S$200,000 fine and imprisonment of 12 months for renting your residence out to Airbnb, says Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). In a move to protect the profits of the local hotel industry, the Singapore government reiterated the ban on property-sharing website Airbnb:

“The minimum rental period for private homes in Singapore is three months, meaning typical short-term lettings on platforms like Airbnb are prohibited. This protects the living environment of neighbouring residents.”

The Airbnb ban is slightly “relaxed” for private property owners, with a requirement that the rent must be more than 3 months. However tourists are only allowed to stay in Singapore for a maximum of 3 months, hence rendering the requirement non-existent and similar in principal to a ban. For HDB public housing, the owner remains the government and the incorrectly-termed “HDB homeowners”, who are in essential lessees, are banned from using Airbnb.

Like Uber and Grab killing off the taxi industry, Airbnb disrupted the local hotelier industry as tourists on short-term travel are attracted by the lower prices offered by Airbnb. A night’s stay at a budget hotel at Balestier Road cost on average about S$140 a night, compared to half the price at a residential condo at S$70 a night on Airbnb. Worried about the loss of taxes, the Singapore government banned Airbnb.

Earlier in Feb, Airbnb called the Singapore government a hypocrite when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong waxed lyrical about embracing technology disruptions:

“We have repeatedly offered our support to relevant agencies to develop a framework that promotes responsible home-sharing. Nearly two years since the URA’s public consultation, it’s disappointing that the discussion has not moved forward. Penalties for unlawful short-term rentals is not compatible with Singapore’s vision to stay ahead in an age of disruption and innovation. Under the law, home owners who flout the rules on short-term rentals face a fine of up to S$200,000 or jail for up to a year.”

In other countries, homeowners are able to earn a side income by renting out their unused spaces to travellers. Some even engaged in Airbnb full-time becoming property managers and hire cleaners to manage rented Airbnb units in an area. In Japan, real estate companies refurbish old apartments and operate Airbnb as a side property business.