Singapore

Airbnb ready to make concessions on short-term rentals in Singapore

Home-sharing site says company has managed to make progress in many markets, including China, Cuba

Home-booking company Airbnb is willing to make some concessions on short-term rentals in Singapore in an attempt to appease concerns of the Government, a top executive said yesterday.

Strict rules in Singapore make it one of the toughest markets in which Airbnb operates.

Two men are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty recently for unauthorised short-term letting of apartments.

Mr Chris Lehane, Airbnb's head of global policy, told Reuters that the company had managed to make great progress in other markets, such as China and Cuba.

"We feel optimistic that as the Government looks around and sees the 400-plus partnerships that have been done, that if we can figure this out in Cuba, we should be able to figure it out here in Singapore," he said.

When asked for comment, the Ministry of National Development told Reuters that the Government would seek public feedback around this month or next on how to regulate short-term letting of property.

Mr Lehane declined to confirm whether he was due to meet with government officials while in Singapore.

Private homes in Singapore are subject to a minimum rental period of three consecutive months.

For public housing, which is home to about 80 per cent of the people, the minimum period is six months.

Airbnb said it has told the Government that, if asked, the company would not list public housing on the platform.

"We have so many examples from around the world, where there are different pieces that you could put into a framework that could work here, understanding that there are unique pieces here," Mr Lehane said.

He cited examples of Chicago's "three strikes" policy, which bars hosts who repeatedly break the rules, while in New Orleans, the company agreed to not list accommodation in the French Quarter.

Airbnb would consider putting a cap on the number of days that hosts in Singapore can rent their property.

A registration system for hosts, which the company has put in place in other markets, would also help the Government address any issues that may crop up, he said.

A high population density and limited land mean most of Singapore's 5.6 million people live in apartments.

While Singapore is not a large market for Airbnb, it serves as its headquarters for Asia-Pacific.

About 15,000 people stayed in Airbnb listings for the Winter Olympics in South Korea last month, while China's Chinese New Year holidays, with millions of people travelling across the country, also helped business. - REUTERS

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