5 things to expect from the new home-sharing rules

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The wait is finally over (soon)! Yesterday’s Sunday Times reported that the proposed home-sharing rules will be released before April for feedback.

Looks like short-term home sharing is here to stay. Despite the recent clampdown by authorities, the number of listings for homes as well as single rooms and shared rooms has risen from 7,781 in May 2017 to 8,601 in December the same year, an 11 per cent increase in eight months. In the same period, a total of 8,046 homes, single rooms and shared rooms were rented out for up to three months (which is technically against the current law). Airbnb’s total available room nights for single and shared rooms in Singapore from January to November 2017 was 1,186,887, a jump of almost 25 per cent compared to the same period in 2016.

Impressive statistics, isn’t it? With the weak residential rental market, property investors had little choice but to take the risk of running afoul of the law and list their properties on Airbnb to seek for an alternative source of income for their vacant properties. But with the impending home-sharing rules, it may be good to have clarity on how homeowners can officially do short-term leases in Singapore.

But wait. Is it really good for Airbnb landlords and the property market? Sunday Times reported that a new category of housing, which allows home sharing on a short-term basis, is believed to be one of the ideas in the consultation paper. Home-sharing platform operators like Airbnb may also be regulated. Mr Lawrence Wong also commented that “Singapore’s situation is complex due to its high density, and the majority of private homeowners live in strata-titled properties.”

So what can we possibly expect when the home-sharing rules come out?

  • A new category of housing? How does this work? Could it be like Private HireCar Driver’s Vocational Licence (PVDL), i.e. homeowners need to apply for a short-term leasing licence and subject to a very stringent set of rules to follow? Quite possible. The hurdle to getting the licence may be high, as the government need to protect the interests of the hoteliers.
  • There is no free lunch. Short term leasing can potentially generate better profits for owners compare to a typical residential lease. For owners who are allowed to lease short term, they might also have to prepare to pay an even higher property tax.
  • It is important to keep the neighbours happy. Government is paying attention to how the short-term leasing will affect neighbours in the development. So it is likely that once this home sharing rule is implemented, any complaint from a neighbour may result in a great deal of trouble for the short term leasing owner. So, be nice to your neighbours.
  • Another round of disruption to the hotel/residential leasing industry? Once the rules are clear, we may see hospitality operators and start-ups entering the short-term leasing market to be an operator for property owners in managing their short-term leases on their behalf. There are already some operators doing this (which is technically illegal).
  • Property market may get a boost from the home-sharing rules. One of the biggest concern of the property market now is the poor rental market at the moment. Whilst leasing outlook is expected to improve, the introduction of the home-sharing rules could provide an additional source of potential rental income and access to a bigger pool of tenants LEGALLY. This should help to improve buying sentiments.

This home sharing rule is probably one of the major change in Singapore property market in recent years. It is definitely an important development to look out for over the next few months. Stay tuned!

This article first featured on Singapore Property Kaki blog.

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