Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced on Friday that the minimum rental period for private homes has been lowered from six to three months. However, the authorities mentioned in a press release that the short-term rentals of less than three consecutive months, including those through online home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb and Roomorama, are still not allowed.
URA said this move comes amid growing demand from groups seeking accommodation for periods of between three to six months. It includes academics and students visiting local institutions of higher learning, and professionals on work assignments. In 2009, the minimum stay duration of six months was put in place.
"The feedback from this group has been that they prefer private residential properties, considering their choice of locations, range in unit sizes, and financial affordability, over hotels and serviced apartments," URA said in a statement.
It added that the revised minimum stay duration will provide these groups with more accommodation options, and also provide more rental opportunities for property owners.
According to URA, a public consultation on short-term stays conducted in 2015 also showed that the majority of respondents were supportive of a reduction in the minimum stay duration.
URA said it has assessed that a minimum stay duration of three months is an "appropriate limit" that is unlikely to significantly impact residential communities. It will monitor developments closely and assess the need for a further review.
Lawrence Wong, the Minister for National Development said in February that private residential properties should not be used for other purposes without planning approval. He said that there is a need to safeguard the living environment of residents in the neighbourhood.
"Over the past year, URA has already seen a 60 per cent rise in complaints from home owners about breaches of this rule in their residential properties. The complaints related to public nuisance or even safety concerns for their families," he said in Parliament.
URA also said that it is reviewing guidelines to facilitate short-term rentals and intends to conduct a public consultation to seek feedback on this issue.
In February, Airbnb also said that it is committed to working with the Government to adopt a model of home-sharing that works for Singapore. This came after the Government announced that it was looking at creating a new class of private homes which would be approved specifically for short-term rentals.
House owners, who breach the minimum three-month period for renting or subletting their home, will have to face a fine of up to S$200,000 or jail for up to a year.