Chief Editor May 31 2022

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Duo fined for subletting private residential properties on Airbnb for short term rental gains

Simon Chan Chai Wan, 57 was fined S$1.16 million after he was found guilty under URA Planning Act for leasing 14 residential units and subletting them for short-term rental gains via Airbnb.

His girlfriend Zhao Jing, 43, was fined S$84,000 for being his accomplice. Between Jun 30, 2017 and Aug 3, 2018, she received remuneration of about S$52,000.

Investigations showed that Chan illegally provided short-term accommodation at 14 premises from Jun 30, 2017 to July 2018. The total revenue that he obtained was about S$1.25 million.

Chan and Zhao were licensed property agents when they committed the offences.

The locations of the 14 units were River Valley Road, Orchard Road, Killiney Road, Robinson Road and Keppel Bay. The condominiums include Centrepoint Apartments, Caribbean at Keppel Bay, Claremont and Robinson Suites.

Neither Chan nor Zhao inform the landlords that they were being sublet out for short-term accommodation. They knew that doing so was illegal in the eyes of URA. 

The transactions took place on popular rental platforms such as Airbnb, which allowed users to post listings for apartments with short-term leasing option. 

Under URA's regulations, all tenancy agreements for the private residential properties must adhere to a minimum leasing period of three consecutive months. There is also an occupancy cap of six unrelated persons in each house. 

Whereas for HDB's regulations, there is a minimum of six months period for rental contracts. 

"URA will continue to take strong enforcement actions against short-term accommodation offenders, including property owners, tenants, agents and anyone found to have assisted in such illicit activities, in order to safeguard the interest of the community," said URA.

Property owners could be taken to task if they are aware that their houses have been used for short term accomodation. CEA will take disciplinary action against property agents who turn a blind eye to the URA Planning Act by suspending or revoking their licence. 

Condominiums Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) have measures in place to deter short term leasing by requiring the landlords or property agents to submit the tenancy agreements to them. Some of the longest serving security officers are trained to identify unfamiliar faces in the private residential developments and conducting random checks on visitors. 

Airbnb has updated its policy last year such that rental listings that do not set a minimum required stay length of at least three months are no longer allowed to be listed on the platform in Singapore.