Ex-realtor fined record $1.16 million for illegally subletting private homes on Airbnb, HomeAway

SINGAPORE – A 57-year-old man was fined a record $1,158,000 on Monday May 30 for offenses relating to unauthorized short-term accommodation.

Simon Chan Chai Wan had illegally provided short-term rent at 14 private residential properties to local and foreign guests through platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway.

His accomplice, Zhao Jing, 43, was fined $84,000 for helping him commit the offences.

Properties included units at International Plaza, Robinson Suites, Claremont, Centrepoint Apartments, The Abode at Devonshire and Caribbean at Keppel Bay.

Zhao and Chan, who are a couple, were licensed real estate agents at the time of the offenses, according to court documents.

They were directors of two companies, HTM Solutions and HTM Management, and Chan is the former director of SNS Infotech Global.

Chan would enter into rental agreements with owners of the units using the three companies as company vehicles and would sublet the units for short-term accommodations on the rigs.

Chan had persuaded Zhao to be the sole tenant of two of the accommodations. She also helped Chan illegally sublet two other units.

From June 30, 2017 to July 2018, Chan’s total income was $1,254,907.78.

He paid Zhao a monthly salary of $4,000 for helping him. Zhao allegedly received $52,000 for the period of the violations.

If they are unable to pay the fine, Chan will have to serve a 95-week prison term and Zhao 12 weeks.

In a statement on Monday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said all private residential properties let for accommodation are subject to a minimum stay of three consecutive months.

“Landlords must also exercise due diligence to ensure that their properties are not used by their tenants for unauthorized purposes,” he said.

“Unauthorized short-term accommodation with frequent turnover of visiting guests not only alters the residential character of a property, but also causes inconvenience to neighboring residents.”

Penny D. Jackson