Service Apartments – An Alternative Short Term Stay

Singapore Residential – Service Apartments

Under Singapore law, residential properties are not intended for short-term accommodation. These properties include condominiums, walk-up apartments, landed housing, and HDB flats. Visitors, such as tourists, should seek legal short-term accommodation options.

This regulation aims to preserve the residential character of local communities in Singapore, as well as the safety and privacy of residential homes. The frequent presence of short-term visitors may compromise these aspects.

Property owners and tenants must exercise due diligence to prevent misuse and safeguard their properties. Under the Planning Act, legal action will be taken against individuals found guilty by the court.

Management Corporations (MCSTs) play an important role in minimizing and preventing such occurrences within developments. Members of the public can contribute by reporting any suspicious short-term stay activities through the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) feedback form.


Short Term Accommodation In Singapore

There are several types of residential accommodation options available for stays of less than three consecutive months.


Types of Accommodation in Singapore
Types of Accommodation in Singapore

Service Apartment Types

Service Apartments (SA)

These are apartments that come with kitchenettes or kitchens and have a total living space capped at 35 sqm net. The global average size of 35 sqm net for self-contained units, along with covered communal facilities exclusively for the service apartment’s tenants, can be considered by the URA. This applies to proposals with specific concepts and unique design merits.

Housekeeping, concierge, and laundry services are permitted as supporting services for residents.

Such service apartment properties should be managed and developed under a single ownership. Strata subdivision is strictly prohibited.


Serviced Apartments II (SA2)

Service Apartments II (SA2) are a new classification of service apartments that require a minimum stay of 3 months. They cater to occupants seeking longer rental periods and are also known as Long-stay Serviced Apartments.

There is no requirement for these units to be self-contained with a full suite of living, dining, and kitchen amenities. However, SA2 units must be minimally en-suite, with an attached bathroom for the occupants, and have a global average unit size of 35 sqm net.

As with regular Service Apartments (SA), strata subdivision is strictly prohibited. Enhanced services such as concierge, laundry, and housekeeping are allowed.

Developers and operators of SA2 units are granted more flexibility with new concepts.

New Service Apartments - MRT Entrance
New Service Apartments – MRT Entrance


Who can stay in the Service Apartments

Renters seeking more space than a typical room rental or wishing to avoid the higher costs of a hotel stay may opt for these apartments. They offer a well-maintained environment with daily support services such as housekeeping, laundry, and concierge services.

Locals may look for temporary accommodations while waiting for their new homes to be built or for their home renovations to be completed.

Foreigners in Singapore, whether students or working expats, may find these long-stay serviced apartments (SA2) more affordable compared to those with shorter minimum stay requirements.


Where are the Service Apartments

Several service apartment operating companies currently exist in various parts of Singapore.

Service apartments are permitted only in residential zones and on mixed-use sites where residential uses are allowed. The suitability of the site is determined by the URA.

Conditions such as the presence of major or arterial roads or primary access roads fronting the sites are crucial in determining whether SA or SA2 will be more suitable for approval.

SA sites can only front Category 1, 2, or 3 roads within residential areas, whereas SA2 sites are allowed to front Category 4 roads.

Designated Landed Housing Areas or areas that may cause disamenities to the neighborhood are not allowed for either SA or SA2. Only SA2 units are permitted in existing areas where hotels, backpacker hostels, or service apartments are not allowed, except for the Upper Circular Road street block.

Since SA2 is a newly implemented category, the government recently designated two new Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme sites for this pilot program: the Upper Thomson Road (Parcel A) and Zion Road (Parcel A) land parcels, with their tenders closing in April and June 2024, respectively.

Another new GLS site for long-stay apartments (SA2) at Media Circle is open for tender until September 2024.

It will be interesting to see the response of developers to this new housing classification. This diversified business model and recurring income source could be an attractive alternative as profits from new launches decline.

However, this new option could also introduce competition to the private residential rental market, providing potential tenants with more choices.