Singapore

Proposal to allow assessors to specify rent waiver amount

Assessors appointed by the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) to deal with disputes under the rental relief framework would be given enhanced powers to specify the amount of rent to be waived in some cases, under proposed amendments to the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

This is the second time amendments have been proposed to the Act.

In June, the first amendments were passed to require landlords to waive rent for eligible small and medium-sized enterprise tenants and sub-tenants affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Landlords who are unable to reach an agreement with these tenants on whether the latter are eligible for the rental waivers - the portion supported by Government assistance and/or the portion borne by the landlord - are able to apply to have the assessors make a determination.

They can also get assessors to determine whether they can provide a reduced amount of waivers, on the basis of financial hardship.

The proposed amendments introduced in Parliament yesterday will allow assessors to specify the amount of rent to be waived under the framework.

This will apply when the amount is affected by maintenance and service charges, especially if they are not listed in the lease or licence agreement; when the amount could be offset by assistance provided earlier by the landlord; when the tenant is occupying the property for only a part of the relief period; and when there are multiple sub-tenants in the same property.

CLARIFY

In addition, the amendment Bill will clarify an existing part of the Act - not yet in force - that allows parties of some contracts to get relief if they are affected by breaches or delays in construction, supply or related contracts.

MinLaw said the amendments tabled yesterday, if passed, will keep Singapore's legal interventions relevant and responsive to the uncertainty from Covid-19.

The ministry said it is aiming for the amendments to take effect before the end of the month.

coronavirus