Singapore

2 men fined $60,000 each for providing Airbnb-style accommodation

Two men who provided Airbnb-style accommodation in a Bukit Timah condominium were each fined $60,000 yesterday - the first prosecutions under a new rule outlawing short-term rentals.

Former property agents Terence Tan En Wei, 35, and Yao Songliang, 34, admitted four charges in February and were fined $15,000 on each count.

This was the first case of prosecution for a breach of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's rules on short-term rentals that kicked in on May 15 last year.

The men earned at least $19,000 from four listings of their units at d'Leedon near Farrer Road over five weeks last year.

The prosecution had sought to fine each man $80,000, while the defendants hoped to pay a maximum fine of $20,000 each.

District Judge Kenneth Choo said that while a $80,000 fine was excessive, there were several aggravating factors.

The men were motivated by profit when they rented out these units on home-sharing portals like Airbnb and Homeaway.

They set up several companies that were used to rent out the four units for short-term stays.

As former real estate agents, they also should have known that short-term stays were illegal, he said. The men have had their licences revoked.

Tan and Yao also took steps to avoid detection, including taking their guests to a completely different unit to evade suspicious security guards.

But Judge Choo noted that the duo were first-time offenders, who pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity, and cooperated fully with the authorities.

Ms Wong Soo Chih, the duo's lawyer, said her clients were satisfied with the outcome. They paid the fine on the spot yesterday.

COURT & CRIME