Private commercial landlords to give two weeks of mandatory rental waiver: MinLaw

Sep 13, 2021

PRIVATE commercial landlords in Singapore will be required to provide two weeks of rental waiver to qualifying tenants under the new Rental Waiver Framework tabled in Parliament on Monday.

As part of the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No 4) Bill, the Rental Waiver Framework is being implemented to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and specified non-profit organisations (NPOs) affected by the tightened safe-management measures during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) or P2HA.

In July, when the second P2HA period was announced, the Singapore Retailers Association had urged a mandatory rental rebate of at least 50 per cent for as long as the tightened restrictions are in place.

The government had previously encouraged landlords to provide rental support, but found that this has not been consistently offered.

"The Rental Waiver Framework will ensure the fair co-sharing of rental obligations over the P2HA periods between the government, landlords and eligible tenants," the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) said in a press statement.

Under the framework, eligible tenants will receive a total of about 1.5 months of rental support, of which a month comes from the government's Rental Support Scheme (RSS) payout announced earlier this year. The first RSS payout had been disbursed starting Aug 6.

If the Bill is passed, eligible tenants can expect to receive a notice of rental waiver and declaration form distributed along with their second RSS payout in October, said MinLaw.

However, receipt of the notice does not automatically qualify the recipient tenant for the rental waiver. Tenants who wish to claim the rental waiver will be required to send a copy of their notice, completed declaration form and supporting documents to their immediate landlord via email or registered post within 28 calendar days from the date of the notice.

To qualify, the SMEs and NPOs must have annual revenues not exceeding US$100 million in FY2019. They must also have suffered at least a 20 per cent drop in average monthly revenue during both P2HA periods, among other criteria.

Landlords who have provided rental support to their tenants during P2HA may offset from their rental waiver obligations any direct monetary assistance or rental waivers provided from May 16 up to the date they receive all the tenant's supporting documents.

However, MinLaw added that some landlords may apply to be exempted from providing the rental waiver. To qualify for an exemption, the landlord's investment properties must have an annual value of less than S$60,000.

The average monthly rental income derived from their properties must also constitute at least 75 per cent of their average monthly gross income.

"Tenants and landlords are encouraged to work out mutually agreeable arrangements based on their specific circumstances. However, if they are unable to reach a compromise, they may make an application to an independent rental waiver assessor for a determination," MinLaw said.