SINGAPORE – A Singaporean real estate agent who provided unauthorized short-term accommodation on Airbnb and HomeAway was fined S $ 1,158 million by the Singapore district court on Monday (30 May).
Simon Chan Chai Wan’s fine is the largest amount ever imposed on an individual in Singapore for offenses relating to unauthorized short-term stays, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in a press release.
The 57-year-old had provided the arrangements at private residential properties with the help of his girlfriend and fellow real estate agent Zhao Jing. Zhao, a 43-year-old Singaporean, was fined S $ 84,000 for her role, which included managing the listings.
Chan received a total revenue of S $ 1,254,907.78 from the 14 premises he let out for short-term accommodation between 30 June 2017 and July 2018. Chan paid Zhao about S $ 52,000 in total for her assistance – which works out to a monthly salary of S $ 4,000 .
Under the URA’s regulations, all private residential properties have to be rented out for a minimum duration of three consecutive months.
Chan pleaded guilty to nine charges under the Planning Act, while Zhao pleaded guilty to four charges under the same act. Respectively, each had five and 10 charges taken into consideration for their sentencing.
Chan had been the director or ex-director of HTM Solutions, HTM Management, and SNS Infotech at the time. Zhao had also been involved as director of HTM Solutions and HTM Managements.
Using the three companies and Zhao, Chan rented 14 private residences and listed them on various short-term letting platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway.
The premises that Chan let out were in condominiums or apartments in prime areas of Tanjong Pagar, River Valley, Orchard and Keppel Bay.
Two residential units were at International Plaza, three units at Robinson Suites, five units at Claremont condominium, a unit at condominium Residences @ 338A, a unit at condominium The Abode at Devonshire, a unit at Centrepoint Apartments and a unit at Caribbean at Keppel Bay condominium.
To lease the properties, Chan and Zhao entered tenancy agreements with the owners of these units through his companies. The couple did not reveal that they were subletting the units for short-term accommodation, or seek permission to do so.
Chan lied to some of the owners by claiming that Zhao and her child, or that Zhao and her husband would reside at the rented units.
Besides assisting Chan in renting two units, Zhao helped set up and manage the accounts on Airbnb. She also posted listings on the platform. Chan took charge of the day to day operation of the units.
Between December 2017 and May 2018, CISCO officers inspected several units sub-letted by Chan and found foreigners and their families staying there.
For using the premises to provide short-term accommodation of less than three months, a first time offender may be fined up S $ 200,000.
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