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Online help for private homeowners to check for foreign worker housing breaches

Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service - MOM.JPG
MOM's Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service allows homeowners to check the names of work pass holders registered to their residential addresses. It will be fully rolled out by end-2019.

A NEW online service from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) makes it easier for private homeowners to detect and report the misuse of their home addresses for foreign worker housing.

The Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service (FWTES) enables homeowners who have rented out their private residential properties to easily check the names of work pass holders registered to be residing at their addresses, as well as remove the names of foreigners who have moved out.

Previously, they had to manually submit a hardcopy form to MOM to perform these functions.

The new service will be fully rolled out by the end of 2019, after MOM implements SMS or email alerts to notify homeowners whenever a work pass holder is registered to be staying at their residential properties.

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There will also be a new feature to allow homeowners to “delist” their properties, if they have no intention of renting them out to foreign workers.

MOM said it found that some private residential addresses were being registered by employers as their foreign workers’ residential addresses, without the homeowner’s knowledge. A minority of these cases were due to the employer making administrative errors, such as keying the wrong unit number. In other cases, the employers had deliberately entered false address information to circumvent the housing requirement, likely because they were housing their workers in overcrowded units or in unapproved factory premises, MOM said.

Since the new service was soft launched in December 2018, it has enabled 489 homeowners to check and report cases of misused addresses compared to fewer than 30 per year previously. All the employers and workers involved have been or are being investigated.

Ms Jeannette Har, director of well-being at MOM’s foreign manpower management division, said, “Homeowners are best placed to inform us if foreign workers are indeed staying at their property, and they can now do so easily online, via the FWTES. We thank the homeowners who have reported cases to us, and encourage others to do the same.”

Arising from these complaints, MOM has fined 19 employers as at April 24 for failing to exercise supervision over their foreign workers’ place of residence and for providing false address information to MOM.

In addition, the ministry has revoked the work permits of 13 workers for abetting their employers to provide false addresses and they have been banned from working in Singapore.

Employers have an obligation to ensure their foreign workers’ accommodation meet regulatory requirements. They are also required to report the addresses of their workers accurately to MOM using the Online Foreign Worker Address Service (OFWAS). They remain accountable when their workers source for their own accommodation, and must verify that the addresses provided by the workers are correct. Examples of verification measures include physical visits to their workers’ place of residence and having sight of signed tenancy agreements.

For Housing and Development Board (HDB) addresses, OFWAS will check that the foreign worker is already registered as a tenant in the HDB system before it accepts the address.