Singapore, 10 Mar 2016: Panorama view of public and private housing estates with city skyline from Shutterstock

Foreign workers using residents’ private address to hide their stay in illegal dorms

There have been nearly 500 reports of private addresses being falsely used as foreign workers’ home addresses in the past five months, MOM said yesterday (2 May).

This came after MOM launched the Foreign Worker Tenant Enquiry Service (FWTES) in Dec last year, allowing Singaporeans to check for the maximum number of tenants who can stay under their house type as well as tenant names if they are foreign workers.

According to the media report, some employers had deliberately entered false addresses to circumvent housing requirements, after housing their workers in overcrowded units or unapproved factory premises.

There were also cases of foreign workers who had sourced for their own accommodation and deliberately provided false addresses to their employers, as they were residing in overcrowded or illegal units.

“All the employers and workers involved have been or are being investigated,” MOM told the media.

As of Apr 24, a total of 19 employers have been fined for “failing to exercise supervision over their foreign workers’ place of residence and for providing false address information”, MOM said.

MOM has also revoked the work permits of 13 workers for abetting their employers in providing false addresses and banned them from working in Singapore.

More than 2,000 employers and 1,000 foreign workers have been taken to task in the last three years for providing false addresses or for failing to update the addresses of their foreign workers.

“Employers remain accountable when their workers source for their own accommodation, and must verify that the addresses provided by the workers are correct,” MOM added. Verification includes physically visiting workers’ residences and checking signed tenancy agreements.

Resident’s fear of his address being used for loansharking

Last week, it was reported that a Singaporean resident, Ruzaidie Dar Surnik, had a shock of his life when he found out that five strangers, all foreigners, used his residential address to register with MOM.

Ruzaidie said that he got to know about this matter after his neighbour, Bets Koh, alerted him via a WhatsApp message. She asked him to check the MOM’s website and see if there’s any foreign worker who used his address as their residing address without his knowledge.

His neighbour highlighted that many residents in their neighbourhood had encountered this same problem. Listening to her advice, he went on to the website and was surprised to see not one, but five foreign workers from different companies were using his address as non-resident address.

“What if they made an illegal loan with a loanshark? What happened if they had done something wrong and out of the sudden the police came standing in front of our house?” he asked.

Ruzaidie also emailed the respective companies of these foreigners to inform them of the problem. Two of the companies responded and said that they will investigate the matter with the named foreign workers.

Following his encounter, Ruzaidie urged everyone to check the MOM website and inform MOM if they experience similar situation like his. He also commented on his Facebook page that he “believes there’s a loophole” in MOM’s system that allows anyone to use another person’s address to register in the system. He added that the system is “flawed” and the problem surfaced because MOM does not “have a check and balance in the system”.

Many readers on TOC’s Facebook page were also shocked when they also found unknown foreign workers registered to their address after checking with the system.

Replying to the media, MOM said the FWTES will have SMS or email alerts by the end of this year to notify home owners whenever a work pass holder is registered to be living at their properties. There will also be a new feature to allow home owners to “delist” their properties if they have no intention of renting them out to foreign workers.

Meanwhile, Singaporean residents can logon to FWTES with their Singpass to check if any “foreign strangers” are presently “living together” with them.