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Airbnb offers more openness to gain access to Singapore market

Home rental platform Airbnb may let building management bodies access its booking system to monitor guests' arrivals and departures, in a bid to relax Singapore's home-sharing rules, The Business Times has reported.29 Aug 2017

Private homeowners in Singapore are currently not allowed to rent out their properties for less than three consecutive months. Before 30 June the minimum lease period was six months, but this was changed to give more choices to visiting academics and students.

"The revised minimum stay duration will provide these groups with more accommodation options. It will also provide more rental opportunities for property owners seeking to rent out their properties. Hotels and serviced apartments will continue to cater to visitors on shorter stays," Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said at the time.

However, the URA is also reviewing its guidelines to allow short-term rentals, and Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk is keen to encourage this.

Blecharczyk told The Business Times that the giving more access to management bodies would help to make neighbours and residents feel comfortable with who was in their building.

Some of the URA's concerns could be alleviated by Airbnb's "friendly buildings programme", he told the Business Times.

"This enables building management to be given visibility into the Airbnb system to see when guests are arriving and departing from that building, what kind of vetting has been done in relation to their backgrounds, as well as set some basic restrictions on how long people can stay and other criteria that the building (management) might care about - so it allows for some customisation," he said.

Airbnb may also share the commission on rentals with building management, The Business Times reported.

"The building (management) can define a service fee that gets collected on each transaction. That money can be set aside to help everybody in the building," Blecharczyk told the newspaper.

Landlords who have tenants that want to be Airbnb hosts would benefit, as tenants would need to sign a "lease addendum" on hosting terms including how much commission the landlord will earn on the hosts' profit. Landlords would be informed about guest check-in and check-out dates, the number of guests and host earnings.

The programme has been used in the US and Australia, and is being extended around the world. "I think it's very relevant to Singapore," said Blecharczyk.