Singapore proposes allowing Airbnb-type rentals, with tough conditions

Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority on Monday published proposals for a regulatory framework for private home owners wanting to let out their properties for tourists. (Courtesy Airbnb)
Updated 16 April 2018
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Singapore proposes allowing Airbnb-type rentals, with tough conditions

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Monday proposed allowing private home owners to rent out their property for short-term stays but with stringent conditions, a move welcomed by home-sharing giant Airbnb.
It came after two Singaporean Airbnb hosts were fined SG$60,000 each this month for letting out apartments without official permission, underscoring the land-scarce city-state’s strict rules on short-term rentals.
The prosecution prompted criticism from the firm, which is a popular and often cheaper alternative to hotels, and authorities decided to examine the issue.
On Monday the government’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) published proposals for a regulatory framework for private home owners wanting to let out their properties for tourists.
Members of the public are invited to provide their feedback until May 31.
The proposal refers to private homes in the city-sate, which are usually gated, high-rise condominiums with strict security policies.
It does not cover the government-subsidized apartments where more than 80 percent of the population in the rich but land-starved country live.
The URA’s proposals included measures to safeguard the security and privacy of private home residents, including a short-term rental cap of 90 days per year and limiting the number of persons renting a unit to six.
A person wanting to rent out his property for short-term accommodation must also get majority support from the other homeowners in a condominium complex, according to the proposal.
Airbnb welcomed the suggestions.
“This public consultation is an important step for the significant number of locals who want to share their homes, and travelers who want a unique and authentic experience when they visit Singapore,” said Mich Goh, head of public policy for Airbnb Singapore.
Christine Li, head of research at real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield Singapore, said the proposed framework is unlikely to have a significant impact on the rental market due to the cap.
“Landlords are still dependent on longer-term tenants who are working and living in Singapore, rather than short-term tourists,” she said in a statement.
In some countries, Airbnb has faced criticism that it worsens housing shortages and squeezes the long-term rental sector.


Displaced Boracay workers head home, look for other jobs as Philippines’ tourist island shuts down

Updated 26 April 2018
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Displaced Boracay workers head home, look for other jobs as Philippines’ tourist island shuts down

BORACAY, Philippines: The cooks, hotel workers and other Filipinos who served tourists at the country’s most popular beach headed home and started looking for other work Thursday as police guarded the empty beach on the first day of a shutdown intended to let Boracay’s waters recover from overcrowding and development.
Police on the empty, white-sand beach turned away tourists trying to take a dip in the turquoise waters, and once-busy stores and restaurants stood closed.
“It’s painful for us to lose our jobs and it’s so sudden,” said canteen cook Marlon Laguna, 47, outside the closed beachfront restaurant. “Even though I don’t have my own family, I support my siblings ... We cannot do anything but to accept it.”
The island will be shut to visitors for up to six months while sewage containment and other work is done to clean up the waters President Rodrigo Duterte had called a cesspool.
The work was already underway Thursday. Police and residents were collecting seaweed in a cleanup drive on the beachfront, pipes were being laid, and construction had begun to widen the island’s main road. Some roadside structures were being demolished to make way.
Workers now out of jobs said they will look for other work to ride out the time the island is shut to tourists.
About 17,000 are employed in Boracay’s tourist establishments, and 10,000 to 12,000 others benefit from the bustling tourism business.
Displaced workers flocked to the Department of Social welfare operation center to get travel allowance for them to go home to their provinces.
“I am thankful that the government gave us travel allowance, even if we do not have a job anymore,” said construction worker Jomar Incierto, 27, who was among those receiving the cash assistance.
More than 2 million tourists visited Boracay last year, generating about 56 billion pesos ($1 billion) in revenue. But the influx, neglected infrastructure and growth of resort establishments and poor settlements have threatened to turn Boracay into a “dead island” in less than a decade, according to a government study. Settlers who’ve built illegal structures in forests and wetlands have added to the problems.
Less than half the establishments are connected to the island’s main sewage treatment plant, with many of the rest possibly maintaining crude septic tanks and others discharging their waste directly into the sea, said Frederick Alegre, assistant secretary at the Department of Tourism.
Parts of the island could re-open earlier than six months if sewage treatment systems could be built earlier and beach resorts comply with environmental regulations, he said.