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Two men renting out Leedon Heights condominium apartments on Airbnb charged for illegal home-sharing

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(Photo: Pexels)

Two men were charged on Tuesday (Dec 5) with providing unauthorised short-term stays to tenants.

This is the first use of new regulations against home-sharing since they kicked in on May 15.

Terence Tan En Wei, 35, and Yao Songliang, 34, face four charges each for renting out their private property to others for under six months.

The Straits Times understands that the men had used popular home-sharing service Airbnb. According to court documents, both men had allegedly worked together to rent out four units at Leedon Heights condominium to others for the short term without permission from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Under the Planning Act, the new rule makes it illegal for owners of private residences to rent, sublet or share their homes with others for under six months.

Following a 2015 public consultation by the URA, the bar was lowered to under three months from June 30 this year.

However, both Tan and Yao had allegedly committed the offences before the three-month bar set in, so the earlier six-month rule still applies for them.

Court documents did not say how long they intended to rent out the units to the tenants for.

The amendment renders the provision of short-term stays in return for payment as a form of development.

Under the Planning Act, owners who carry out or allow the development of any area, without approval from the Government, are liable to be fined up to $200,000.

Repeat offenders face jail time of up to a year, on top of the $200,000 fine.

Those convicted of the offence, but still continue to rent the unit out to others, can be fined up to $10,000 per day.

Owners of Housing Board flats are also liable to fines and getting their units repossessed.

URA prosecutor Douglas Neo said that as this was the first mention of the cases for the two men, more time was needed for prosecutors to prepare the cases.

The cases of Tan and Yao will be heard again next January. Both men were represented in court by Ms Wong Soo Chih of Ho Wong Law Practice.

Written by Ng Jun Sen for The Straits Times

TOPICS: airbnb, illegal