SINGAPORE: A 72-year-old Singaporean man, Tan Hock Keng, has been fined a total of S$600,000 for converting 11 private residential properties as unauthorised dormitory accommodations, The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said in a release on June 14.

On May 30, 2024, Tan was fined the maximum penalty of S$200,000 for each of the three charges brought against him. The sentencing also took into account eight additional charges related to similar offences.

The case against Tan stemmed from investigations by the URA and enforcement officers from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

These inspections revealed that Tan had exceeded the legal occupancy limits set by URA for private residential properties. URA regulations permit a maximum of six unrelated individuals per property.

Specifically, inspections conducted on properties associated with Tan uncovered significant breaches of these regulations. At 1012B Upper Serangoon Road, 15 foreign workers were residing over the allowable limit.

Similarly, 32H Lorong 22 Geylang and 32J Lorong 22 Geylang housed 16 and 17 foreign workers, respectively.

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Further investigations disclosed that Tan had converted an additional eight private residential properties into dormitory-style accommodations between 2016 and 2018. These properties were found to house between seven and 23 unrelated occupants each.

During court proceedings, Tan admitted to being aware of the regulations but proceeded with the unauthorised conversions regardless. This admission was pivotal in URA’s decision to press charges against him in November 2021.

Commenting on the case, Martin Tan, Director of the Development Control Group at URA, emphasised the detrimental effects of unauthorised dormitory accommodations.

He noted, “Unauthorised dormitory accommodation not only adversely affects the residential character of the neighbourhood, but also negatively impacts the occupants, who may be from more vulnerable groups that are susceptible to exploitation.”

“URA will continue to take strong enforcement actions against perpetrators, including property owners, tenants, agents and anyone found to have flouted URA’s regulations on the rental or subletting of private residential properties,” he added.

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Under URA regulations, property owners can seek temporary exemptions to house up to eight unrelated occupants, provided all individuals stay for a minimum of three consecutive months.

However, strict adherence to these guidelines is essential to prevent the misuse of residential properties for commercial purposes. /TISG