Airbnb Hosts Charged for Illegal Home Stays
By Faith Magbanua, December 08, 2017 05:12 AM
Two Singaporean men have been allegedly charged in Singapore for illegally renting out their homes for short-term stays via Airbnb, according to local media.
As of now, it is the first known case of its kind since new regulations alongside home sharing came into effect this June.
Under the said changes, it is illegal to rent out, sublet or let alone, share a residential property for less than three months.
Furthermore, according to reports from Straits Times, the two property agents, Terence Tan En Wei and Tao Songliang, have been anticipated to plead guilty. However, some are claiming that the accused worked together to rent out four apartments for short-term stays without permission from the local authorities.
If proven guilty and convicted, the two men could face fines up to $200,000 Singapore dollars ($149,000; £110,000).
Earlier this year, Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) have lowered the minimum rental period for private homes from six to three months and while home owners can seek the URA's approval for shorter term stays, the regulations effectively render most Airbnb rentals illegal. Airbnb would not comment on the case but said it remained committed to "working alongside the government to find a way forward for home sharing".
Aside from the rage of renting out an Airbnb rather than book into a hotel, there are still a lot of things to consider especially when renting out a place. Recently, the firm lists more than 8,000 Singapore properties on its home sharing platform, which have hosted more than 330,000 travelers over the past year.
It added that the current framework stands "in contrast with Singapore's commitment to innovation" and "does not reflect how Singaporeans travel or use their homes today".
Meanwhile, this is not the first time Airbnb's integrity was put into question and had a guest share her experience regarding the violation of her privacy while renting an Airbnb.
The guest, a 22-year-old from Washington State, was in Switzerland in 2016 when she says a friend discovered a cellphone under the sink in the bathroom at their Airbnb.
"I was like this could be like the day that I get killed or worse, I don't know," said Meghan Hilden, one of the renters of the questioned Airbnb.
"We saw that the phone was filming and we were whispering and trying to be very quiet. We weren't sure if it was being live streamed," Hilden said.
Soon after, Hilden says they found an iPad also recording. They quickly left, and reported the incident to the company.
However, prior to that complaint, the company says cameras are "never allowed in bathrooms or bedrooms" but that doesn't always stop ill-intentioned hosts from hiding them.
Airbnb is tackling privacy concerns after several customers found hidden cameras at their rental properties. However, in defense to that, the company told CBS News it "takes privacy extremely seriously and there is absolutely no place in our community for this kind of behavior."
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