2 Airbnb hosts fined $80,000 each for illegal rentals

By Samantha Chiew / The Edge Singapore | February 27, 2018 4:39 PM SGT
Two men were found guilty for running a business that provides unauthorised short-term stays for less than six months, the Singapore district court heard on Tuesday.
Terence Tan En Wei and Yao Songliang earned at least $25,000 over a period of five weeks and rented the units via lodging renting platforms such as Airbnb, Craigslist and Homeaway.
The apartments drew rates of $150 to $441 per night.
The duo pleaded guilty to four charges of illegally renting out four condominium units in Feb last year and each will face fines of up to $20,000 per charge, or a total of $80,000.
This is the first use of the government’s new regulations against home sharing since it was implemented on May 15 last year.
Under the Planning act, it is illegal for people to rent out, sublet or share their private homes with other for under six months. This minimum rental period has since been reduced to three months.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Selene Yap says that both Tan’s and Yao’s profits were likely to be higher, as they rented each of the flats for a year.
The pair who were property agents with Savills Residential set up four companies, through which they leased the four different units at D'Leedon condominium in Farrer Road.
They have since had their licenses revoked by the Council of Estate Agencies.
According to the prosecution, the pair would hide their activities by bringing their guests to a different unit to wait out the security guards who have followed them, or would ask the guests to lie about the unit they were staying in.
Although this may be Singapore’s first court case involving Airbnb, the home-rental platform has been having issues elsewhere with long-term renters, which has caused the governments to lose revenue from hotel taxes.
Mich Goh, head of public policy for Southeast Asia of Airbnb, says, “For us, we feel that every person should have the right to share their own private residence. We don’t think that anyone should be criminalized for sharing their home.”