Two men charged after 39 people, including migrant workers, were found living in 2 shophouses

SINGAPORE: Two men were charged on Tuesday (October 5) after 39 people, including migrant workers, were found living in two shops, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority said ( URA).

Lau Liang Thye, 42, has been charged with 11 counts of employers for accommodating migrant workers in unacceptable housing and one count of illegally employing a migrant worker without a valid work permit .

These offenses are punishable under the Foreign Labor Employment Act.

Lau was also indicted under the Planning Act with three counts of unauthorized development of private residential units. This was an alleged conversion of private residential units into unauthorized dormitories.

In addition, Tay Kim Kiat, 58, has been indicted under the Land Use Planning Act with three counts of unauthorized development of private residential units.

“This is to convert a private residential unit to provide unauthorized dormitory accommodation and to allow Lau to provide dormitory accommodation in two other units,” MOM and URA said.

39 OCCUPANTS IN TWO SHOPS

On December 3, 2018, MOM and URA agents jointly inspected two three-story boutique houses at 32 and 34 Lorong 23 Geylang.

During the inspection, authorities discovered 39 people living in the two dwellings, which had been partitioned. This exceeded the URA occupancy ceiling rules of no more than six independent occupants in each of the private residential premises.

“Investigations revealed that Lau had rented the second and third floors of the two premises in Tay and sublet them to other tenants, including 22 migrant workers,” MOM and URA said.

“In addition, Lau is said to have sublet partitioned rooms on the roof of the two premises without Tay’s knowledge.”

Following the joint inspection, employers of migrant workers were ordered to relocate all affected workers to “suitable and approved accommodation” within two weeks, authorities said.

Lau is also accused of employing one of the tenants, Zhu Guangpeng, a 46-year-old Chinese national, as a housekeeper and rent collector, in exchange for a reduction in his rent. Zhu did not have a valid job card to do so, MOM and URA said.

Under URA regulations, private residential properties are currently subject to an occupancy cap of six unrelated persons. All occupants must also stay for a minimum of three consecutive months.

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

“Private landlords who have rented their residential properties should verify the names of work pass holders registered to reside at their addresses using the Foreign Worker Tenant Information Service.

“This ensures that their properties are rented responsibly and not misused. Landlords should physically check their premises periodically for fire hazards and overcrowding.”

Employers are also required by law to ensure that their migrant workers live in “acceptable accommodation” that meets legal requirements, MOM and URA said.

Employers who failed to do so would have committed offenses under the Foreign Labor Employment Act. If found guilty, employers can be fined up to S $ 10,000, jail time of up to 12 months, or both, for each charge.

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