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Singapore update to planning laws could allow short-term rentals

An update to Singapore's planning laws has made it illegal for householders to rent their property for less than six month without official permission, but the government is considering creating a new category of private property that would be allowed to do so. 10 Feb 2017

National development minister Lawrence Wong told Parliament that while the amendments to Singapore's Planning Act will make it illegal to let private residential property for less than six months, the government may create a separate class of use to cover private homes.

The rules are designed to protect the other residents in a neighbourhood, Wong said.

Singapore has seen growing number of complaints about short-term rentals, Wong told The Straits Times, and the new law will allow the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to "make sure that the issue does not worsen further".

The proposed new category of private homes would include existing properties as well as new residential sites that could even be developed with short term rental in mind, Wong told The Straits Times.

Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture partner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "The new regulations look as if they effectively put to a halt home-sharing services, which was once a grey area. We look forward to the new categories being created, and possibly to urban planners being allowed to adopt progressive models where multi-use sites can be created with different property uses alongside each other."

The amended bill also covers 'dormitory accommodation', or private apartments rented to unrelated tenants. The maximum number of people allowed in such apartments has been reduced from eight to six.   

The conditions that the URA can place on developers seeking planning permission has been increased, aiming to create "a more liveable and walkable cityscape, for example through the provision of public spaces and pedestrian connections, and guiding the external appearance of buildings, like the night lighting of building facades," Wong said.