S’pore needs to make room for home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb
I refer to the report, “Two Singapore Airbnb hosts plead guilty to unauthorised short-term rentals” (Feb 27).
Last year, laws were passed to make it illegal for homeowners to lease their entire apartments or rooms for short stays of under six months if they are Housing and Development Board units. The minimum stay for private homes was lowered to three months end-June last year.
Regulations are there for good reason. Visitors — sometimes seen as “intruders” — moving around the neighbourhood may potentially cause disorder, be a nuisance, and raise safety concerns. Some people have objected to private and public homes being leased for short-term stays through online platforms such as Airbnb because of these.
However, speaking as one who travels and has stayed in accommodations listed in Airbnb, the experiences I had were that hosts were warm and personal, not to mention that there were savings in travel costs.
I urge the Government to look into ways to see how home-sharing sites can operate here without saying a straight “no”.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said last year that the authorities are looking to see how home-sharing platforms can be given space to operate, but nothing concrete has been announced so far.
Singapore has not been insulated from global consumer trends, such as the spread of Grab and Uber services, or digital payments. We cannot afford to be “stagnant” and closed off, hoping we will be protected and policed by various government agencies or the authorities.
We have to take more calculated risks, and business owners and consumers alike just have to be more discerning.
If it allows some homeowners to have some extra income and for some who just enjoy meeting people from different lands and cultures, why not?