Singapore men convicted over Airbnb rentals
February 27 2018 10:08 AM
A general view of d'Leedon condominium in Singapore (inset)Yao Songliang and Terence Tan En Wei
A general view of d'Leedon condominium in Singapore (inset)Yao Songliang and Terence Tan En Wei


Two Singaporean men pleaded guilty Tuesday to letting out apartments on Airbnb without official permission, the first such case in the city-state under new rules against short-term rentals.

Housing is a sensitive issue in rich but land-starved Singapore where more than 80 percent of the population lives in government-subsidised apartments.

Singaporeans Terence Tan En Wei, 35, and Yao Song Liang, 34, pleaded guilty in court to four charges of illegally renting out four apartments in a luxury private condominium in central Singapore.

Prosecutors said the pair, who were property agents, had listed the apartments on Airbnb, which allows homeowners to share their homes for a fee by marketing them online, and other vacation rental sites.

The duo made Sg$19,000 ($14,500) from renting the apartments between May 15 and June 21 last year, prosecutors said.

They will be sentenced in April. Deputy public prosecutor Selene Yap called for them to be fined Sg$80,000 each.

The pair were charged under regulations introduced last May banning homeowners from leasing property for less than three months without approval from authorities.

When the men were first charged, an Airbnb spokesman said rules in the city-state do not reflect how Singaporeans use their homes and travel, and the company hoped to work with local authorities to find a way forward.

Airbnb has become a popular and often cheaper alternative to hotels for many travellers.

But the company has faced mounting criticism that it worsens housing shortages and squeezes the long-term rental sector, with cities including New York, Miami and Berlin cracking down on the service.

In central Paris, rentals are limited to 120 days a year and apartments must be registered with city authorities. A similar limit applies in London.

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