2 Singapore Airbnb hosts plead guilty to unauthorised short-term rentals

Terence Tan En Wei (left) and Yao Songliang face a total fine of S$80,000 each  for letting four units in a condominium for less than six months without permission.
The Straits Times

Two Singaporeans on trial for unauthorised short-term rentals posted on Airbnb pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday in the first such cases under the city-state’s rules on short-term property letting introduced last year.

The two men were charged for letting four units in a condominium for less than six months without permission from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and face a fine of up to S$200,000 ($152,000) per offence.

Prosecutors however requested fines of S$20,000 per charge for a total of S$80,000 for each of the two defendants, who spoke in court to plead guilty to the charges. Defence lawyers sought fines of $5,000 per charge.

The Singapore government has pledged to seek public feedback on a regulatory framework covering such rentals after the cases of the two hosts prompted a plea from Airbnb that the existing framework was “untenable”.

Airbnb, founded in 2008 in San Francisco, matches people wishing to rent out all or part of their homes to temporary guests.

The firm has clashed with hoteliers and authorities in cities including New York, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, which are limiting short-term rentals in some cases.

Critics blame Airbnb for exacerbating housing shortages and driving out lower-income residents.