Short Term Rental in Singapore
Having a short-term rental in Singapore may be controversial. As of September 2013, any rental shorter than six months anywhere in Singapore is illegal.
Several online websites tout hundreds of rooms for rent all over the city. Which is correct? Use this guide to discover what to do when it comes to a short-term rental in Singapore and how to avoid any illegal activity.
What Does the Government Say?
In reply to several inquiries, the Urban Redevelopment Authority stated that owners of private residential properties and HDB flats cannot sublet their properties for less than six months at a time. Anyone who owns landed property, a Singapore condo, apartment or flat cannot receive money for a stay shorter than six months.
Short-term lease includes renting an entire private property or one room of unit to tourists. Private property owners face fines of $200,000 and jail for up to one year.
Allowing friends and relatives to stay on a short-term basis is allowed since no money changes hands. The government recognises this is a reasonable use of someone’s property out of goodwill towards someone’s family and friends. The issue is that too many guests in one place might be a nuisance to neighbours.
Statistics and Information
The URA faces concerns about safety and problems to neighbours. In 2013, the URA received 231 nuisance calls and complaints about short-term stays. A year later, the number of complaints rose to 375. In 2015, there were 377 complaints.
From January to April of 2016, the nuisance complaints went up to 161. If that number maintains itself, there will be nearly 500 complaints handled by the URA this year. The numbers keep going up and up.
Private residents, especially those with young children, are concerned about safety and security when property owners decide to sublet their spaces for short-term rental in Singapore. Private property owners pay for security and privacy, and all owners should respect that choice.
However, big-name companies, such as Airbnb, Roomarama and PandaBed tout thousands of rooms for rent all over Singapore. Some of these vacation rentals are for longer than six months, but a majority of them are for short-term rentals in Singapore.
What is the government going to do?
In the early part of 2015, the URA held public forums to discuss the issue. More than 2,000 people made suggestions. The government also held meetings with around 100 investors, stakeholders and property management companies to discuss the issue. More than a year after these meetings, the government still has yet to reach a consensus.
The problem comes from balancing the needs of Singapore’s tourist industry with those of private property owners who want their buildings to stay secure. There are hotels and luxury resorts on the island that cater to visitors, but travellers who want a budget vacation try to find private residences to stay in because they cost less money compared to resort areas with a short-term stay.
Short-term rental in Singapore may affect the Singapore property market in good and bad ways. Investors and private property owners want to make money on vacant units.
However, if they make private property too accessible to too many people, it can create security issues, disharmony, loud noises and disruptions among condos, HDB flats and executive condos all over Singapore. Allowing short-term rental might just lead to another set of social problem.
Short-term rental in Singapore faces an uncertain future. The government states anything less than six months is illegal, yet private property owners took the risk to continue to post their residences for short-term vacation stays on popular travel websites.
The Singapore real estate market remains somewhat unstable as property prices continue to fall while mortgage rates go up. The tightening of the immigration policy limiting the numbers of foreigners into Singapore has resulted in the drop in demand in the rental market. Investors and owners want to make money from their properties, and many of them see short-term rental in Singapore as the easy way to do that despite the URA law.
Perhaps the government may offer a compromise that pleases the tourism industry and private property owners. For example, the government may put in place ethical quotas on the nationalities of visitors. Maybe the URA can limit how many people from certain countries can live in short-term rentals at any given time.
Allowing businesses to operate under HDB void deck by making it compulsory to register of individuals staying in it is another possible solution that could please everyone while cutting down on complaints. That way, tourists can get a taste of what it means to live in Singapore without staying in a higher-cost tourist area. Additional income for these properties help the social enterprise in Singapore, and that benefits everyone.
Dylan Tan is a real estate salesperson who can share with you the right way to invest in real estate in Singapore, and he can help you find a tenant and secure a lease contract. He can show you what properties are for rent that suits the needs and budget of you and your family while remaining within the law.