By now you’ve probably heard of Airbnb – a vacation rental service that allows you to book a stay not in someone’s apartment, condo, or villa for up to 50% less than the cost of a hotel room. In short, you’re paying the property owner directly to rent his/her place on a short-term basis.
Maybe you have enterprising thoughts about listing your place on Airbnb. And who could blame you? Singapore is a top holiday spot and there are plenty of overpriced hotels out there that would make the spare room in your HDB flat attractive to tourists.
But before you turn your HDB flat into a backpacker inn, you might want to think about these 3 costly disadvantages that Airbnb won’t tell you about:
1. You Might Rent to the WRONG Kind of Guest
You shouldn’t just hand over your property’s keys to just anyone. If you’ve read our article on renting out your property on a long-term basis, you’d know that plenty of work goes into verifying the reliability of a tenant.
Some “CSI” work is requried to screen your tenants to find out whether they intend to use your property for a holiday stay, or something else entirely. Should you do the same with an Airbnb guest intending to use your property on a short-term basis?
The last thing you want is for your property to be used for some nefarious activities, such as the New York comedian who learned that his Airbnb apartment was used to host an “XXX Freak Fest,” which incidentally caused plenty of damage to his property.
Of course, Airbnb won’t tell you about that costly little mistake when you sign up.
2. Your Neighbors Won’t Like You Turning Your Flat/Condo Into a “Hostel”
Before you plan on using Airbnb to rent out your place to vacationers, think about your neighbors. Resist the urge to get defensive and say, “I don’t care what my neighbors think, it’s my property and I can do with it what I like!”
Let’s flip the situation for a bit. If your neighbor was renting out his apartment on a short-term basis to different tourists every week, it would probably freak you out to see different strangers inhabiting the property next to yours every week right?
You might even complain about the “hostel” next door by shaming him on The Real Singapore (TRS), or worse – rat him out to the authorities at the Housing Development Board (HDB) or Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
It has happened. In fact, URA investigated over 2,000 cases of people using their properties for short-term stays.
That brings us to the last (and costliest) disadvantage to using Airbnb…
3. Short-Term Rentals Are Illegal in Singapore
You know what costly is? It’s a fine of up to $200,000 and a 1-year stay at Changi prison (not to be confused with Changi Cove). That’s what can potentially happen if you get busted by URA for renting out your property on a short-term basis.
What’s short-term? Short-term means any rental agreement less than 6 months.
There’s really no wiggle room for you to weasel your way out of a fine or jail time if you’re busted, as URA makes it quite clear that subletting your HDB flat on a short-term basis to tourists is illegal.
Now, if you can think of a bigger disadvantage than a huge ass fine and jail time, please feel free to share it with everyone on our MoneySmart Facebook page.
Do you think the reward is greater than the risk when it comes to renting out your home short-term as a “vacation home?” Tell us what you think here!
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