The majority of property owners with tenants eligible for rent relief under the amended Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act are expected to receive notices regarding their government cash grants by the middle of next month, said yesterday the Ministry of Justice (MinLaw).
Landlords cannot take enforcement action against tenants who meet the criteria for non-payment of rent relief until cash grant notices are issued, he said.
The changes to the law, which provide the framework for rent relief for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and specified non-profit organizations, come into force today.
Landlords with eligible tenant-occupants will receive their cash grant notices from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore starting next week.
This notice will inform landlords of the rental waivers they should provide to tenants.
They are required to provide their tenants with a copy of this notice within four business days of receiving it, so that tenants have timely confirmation that they are eligible for rent waivers.
Service of the notice can be done in person, by registered mail or by email, MinLaw said.
The Rent Relief Framework will help affected SMEs that need more time and support to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as eligible nonprofits.
Tenants and subtenants do not need to pay rent for the months covered by the rent relief framework.
Qualifying tenants in the food and beverage and retail sectors will receive four months rent relief from April through this month – two months each from the government and the landlord.
Those in the office and industrial sectors will benefit from a two-month rent waiver for April and May – one month each from the government and landlord.
This as long as their leases were either concluded before March 25, or concluded before March 25 but had expired and renewed either automatically, or in exercise of a right of renewal in the contract; and in effect anytime between April 1 and today for qualifying commercial properties, and between April 1 and May 31 for other non-residential properties.
Once the landlord has received the cash grant notice, the applicable rent and any interest payable on the rent are waived under the Act.
Landlords can deduct from rental waivers any financial assistance, such as rent discounts, that they had previously granted to their tenants.
If the rent had already been paid, the rent waivers should be applied to the next immediate month (s) of rent. If this is not possible, tenants can obtain a refund from their landlords.
In addition to the rent relief framework, businesses and individuals who are unable to fulfill their contractual obligations due to Covid-19 benefit from other enhanced relief.
Tenants who were unable to vacate their premises after their lease or permit expired due to Covid-19, because they were unable to hire movers, for example, will not have to pay double rent for “holdback” even though some amounts will still be payable.
A ceiling on late interest and late fees has been set at an amount equal to 5 percent per annum of simple interest.
This ceiling applies to certain contracts, in particular equipment leasing contracts and commercial vehicle leasing contracts.
Once a waiver notice is served, the waivers will apply for the period prescribed under the Act, which is currently until October 19.