SINGAPORE: Singapore is set to diversify its rental accommodation offerings by introducing long-stay serviced apartments with a three-month minimum stay, Channel News Asia reports. Currently, serviced apartments in the city-state mandate a minimum stay of seven days, creating competition for short-term rentals among locals and foreign visitors.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee addressed the need for this change, stating that the current seven-day minimum stay policy puts potential tenants, both Singaporeans and foreigners, at a disadvantage compared to those seeking shorter stays, such as tourists and business travellers.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) defines serviced apartments as self-contained living spaces equipped with kitchenettes or kitchens, complemented by support services like concierge, communal dining areas, housekeeping, and laundry facilities.

“To ensure that serviced apartments can be more targeted in meeting the demand for longer-term stays, we will be piloting serviced apartments with a three-month minimum stay period,” highlighted Mr Lee during his speech at the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS) 64th-anniversary dinner.

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The new long-stay serviced apartments will coexist alongside the shorter-stay ones, maintaining a seven-day minimum stay requirement. Additionally, neither category can be subdivided for sale.

The pilot program will commence with two sites at Upper Thomson Road and Zion Road, strategically located next to existing MRT stations for convenient access to the city centre, employment hubs, and various amenities. The sites, set to be launched in early December, will each allocate a portion of the gross floor area (GFA) for long-stay serviced apartments, potentially yielding around 535 units.

To better understand market demand and feasibility, the government will assess the pilot’s success before considering a broader implementation. More details regarding the project will be announced by the URA in due course.

In addressing the evolving housing landscape, Mr Lee acknowledged the shifting preferences of Singaporeans, stating, “While the vast majority of Singaporeans still aspire to own their own homes, some have shared with us that they are open to the idea of renting.”

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In response to concerns about housing waiting times during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Lee reassured the public that waiting times for 2023 BTO (Built-to-Order) projects, including the upcoming December sales exercise, will return to pre-pandemic levels of three to four years. Almost 70% of flats launched in 2023 have a wait time of four years or less, with plans to introduce more projects with waiting times of fewer than three years to meet the demand for accessible rental options. /TISG