So you want to know if Airbnb is illegal in Singapore? Before I answer that, let me qualify that this article in focused mainly on travelers who are heading to Singapore for a short vacation/holiday. If you’re a Singapore citizen or resident who intends to rent out their apartment/flat to tourists through Airbnb, then I’d recommend that you go to this Singapore Legal Advice article for reference.
That said, we go back to our question, “Is Airbnb illegal in Singapore?” Well… Yes and no.
Why is Airbnb illegal?
Renting a property in Singapore, or in any country for that matter, is a normal occurrence. Not everybody can afford to buy a house or choose to. In fact, Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) allows citizens and residents to rent out their property on home sharing services like Airbnb. But there’s a catch. For Housing Development Board (HDB) flat owners, they are allowed to rent out their flats for a minimum of 6 consecutive months. Private residential property owners, on the other hand, are allowed to rent out their properties for at least 3 consecutive months. This obviously means that unless you’re traveling with a Student Visa or a Long Term Social Visit Visa, it is illegal to rent an apartment through Airbnb.
Let me say that again, if you’re traveling to Singapore for less than 3 months, you’re not legally allowed to stay at an Airbnb.
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), they have “always disallowed the use of private residential homes for short-term accommodation on a commercial basis” though the legislation banning Airbnb rentals was passed early 2017.
“Allowing residences to be used for short stays leads to high turnovers of occupants, and gives rise to nuisance and safety concerns. Most of us do prefer some familiarity with the people who live around our homes,” in a statement by the URA.
Airbnb had been working with the URA and has told Channel News Asia, “We have repeatedly offered our support to relevant agencies to develop a framework that promotes responsible home-sharing. Nearly two years since the URA’s public consultation, it’s disappointing that the discussion has not moved forward.”
The progress have been very slow and it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon. However the URA have said that, “the Government has stated that it is prepared to consider allowing short-term accommodation in private homes, subject to a regulatory framework and appropriate safeguards to ensure that such activities do not negatively affect our residential estates.” So there’s still hope.
Frequently Asked Questions?
- Will Singapore Immigration stop me from entering if I booked an Airbnb?
- This is a very hard question to answer as it totally depends on the Immigration Officer handling your entry. I have personally used Airbnb in Singapore and have had absolutely no problems whatsoever. No problems with immigration and no problems at the property. I didn’t even know that it was illegal until somebody asked about it on Facebook.
- All that said, we think it’s very unlikely that you’ll be denied entry to Singapore because of Airbnb. But just to be safe, we recommend booking your accommodations at a hotel. There are a lot of budget accommodations in Singapore available if you do a little searching.
- Will I be fined for staying at an Airbnb?
- Now this is a very interesting question. The legislation passed by the Singapore government only penalizes the property owners, not the guests. Property owners can be fined for $200,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months. There are no fine for guests though, at least not yet. Considering that there’s a fine for pretty much everything in Singapore from chewing gum to vandalism, it won’t be a surprise if the government suddenly institutes a fine for guests staying at Airbnbs.
- Is it ok to insist staying at an Airbnb?
- All we can say about this is book at your own risk. Again, there’s no legislation against guests staying at an Airbnb as of this writing but it is already illegal for locals to rent one out so legislation against guests might already be on the way.
- One other thing to consider is the home owners association for the property you’re renting through Airbnb. There have been some cases where guests where prevented entry to the property by security as ordered by the home owners association. So even if you were able to successfully book through Airbnb and gotten into the country, you might still have some problems at the actual property itself. Again, book at our own risk.
- But why are there still Singapore listings in Airbnb?
- Because property owners can potentially earn up to $5,000 per year if they list their property in Airbnb. This doesn’t make it legal though.
- Are there cheap hotels in Singapore?
- There are actually quite a few. Do a quick hotel search at Agoda and you’ll find some cheap accommodations in Singapore, sometimes even cheaper than Airbnbs.
- How else can I save on accommodation in Singapore?
- You can get some extra saving by signing up for a free Shopback account. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a free service that collects promotions from several online services like Airbnb, Agoda, Klook, Lazada, etc. Aside from getting discount codes, you’ll also get rebates from your purchase.
- I use this myself and have already gotten around P7,000 cash from rebates aside from the countless promo codes I’ve gotten from them. Plus it’s free! Never paid a single cent to use the service. It’s practically free money.