News: HDB received 3,300 complaints on suspected unauthorised flat rentals in 5 years

Jul 9, 2019

The Housing and Development Board received around 3,300 cases of feedback on suspected unauthorised rental of flats, disamenities or overcrowding of flats by foreign and non-foreign tenants between 2014 and 2018.

This is according to the Ministry of National Development (MND) in a written answer to Parliament on Monday (8 July).

It was replying to MP Cheng Li Hui’s question on the number of complaints received by HDB pertaining to foreign tenants within HDB estates.

The ministry revealed that HDB investigates every complaint received, on top of the proactive inspections that it conducts.

“Depending on the severity and circumstances of the infringement, HDB may issue a written warning, impose a financial penalty, or acquire the flats compulsorily from the owners.”

On short-term accommodation listings online, MND noted that listings on websites such as Airbnb usually do not contain specific details regarding the property and its owner, nor the terms of the rental arrangement.

“So the key to effective enforcement against illegal short-term accommodation (STA) is not so much by targeting the listings, but by conducting investigations against all suspected cases and taking action against the STA hosts,” it explained.

Looking for a new home but not sure where to start? Check out our Area Insider Guides for insights!

It was responding to MP Chong Kee Hiong’s query on the measures taken by the ministry to prevent online listings of residential properties for short-term stays.

“Over the past year, URA has been stepping up its investigations of residential units suspected of STA use. Where there is evidence of illegal STA operations, URA will take enforcement action and impose penalties on the perpetrators,” it said.

Those renting out their houses on a casual basis and caught for the first time may face a fine of up to $5,000. URA has issued seven such fines since May 2019, said MND.

“For repeat offenders and those who undertake STA operations on a commercial scale, URA will prosecute them in court, and seek higher penalties,” it added. “So far, URA has secured four convictions in court.”

Aside from the financial penalties, estate agents who are complicit in illegal STA activities may also see their registration getting revoked by the Council for Estate Agencies.

Fiona Ho, Digital Content Manager at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this or other stories, email

agent image
agency logo
Frankie Poh
Associate Branch Director
CEA Licence No.:
L3008022J / R010266D
+(65) 9023 9233