Knowledge Highlights 13 May 2020

On 6 May 2020, the Singapore Government announced temporary relief measures for property developers and individuals in view of disruptions to construction timelines and sales of housing units resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Construction timelines and the sale of housing units have been impacted by manpower shortages and the suspension of work at construction sites, operations at housing developers’ sales galleries and home viewings.

Developers are expected to similarly provide relief and support to their main contractors, especially during the circuit breaker period from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020 when the progress of work is disrupted.

The temporary relief measures to be implemented with immediate effect are:

  • Extension of the Project Completion Period (“PCP”) by six months for residential, commercial and industrial projects;
  • Extension by six months for the commencement and completion of residential projects, and sale of housing units in such projects in relation to remission of the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (“ABSD”) for housing developers;
  • Extension of the PCP and/or disposal period by up to a total of six months for residential projects under the Qualifying Certificate (“QC”) regime for foreign housing developers; and
  • Extension by six months for the sale of the first residential property in relation to ABSD remission for the second residential property purchased by a Singaporean married couple.

Temporary relief measures for developers

Project Completion Period  

The PCP for residential, commercial and industrial projects on Government Land Sale sites, or on land which was directly alienated or had their lease renewed by the Singapore Land Authority (“SLA”), will be extended by six months subject to the following conditions being met:

  • The land was awarded on or before 1 June 2020, or the land was directly alienated or the lease was renewed by SLA on or before 1 June 2020; and 
  • The original timeline for the project to be completed was on or after 1 February 2020.

Eligible developers will be notified by the respective agencies. No application is required. 

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty

Under the ABSD regime, developers of residential projects are to commence and complete the development and sell all housing units in the project within specified timelines to be eligible for remission of ABSD on the purchase of the land.

The specified timeline for commencement of development is two years from the purchase of the land for all housing developers. The specified timelines for completion of development and sale of housing units are five years from purchase of the land for licensed developers (those who construct more than four housing units), and three years from purchase of the land for non-licensed developers (those who construct no more than four housing units).

Under the temporary relief measures, the specified commencement, completion and sale timelines are extended by six months for residential developments, subject to the following conditions being met:

  • The land was purchased on or before 1 June 2020; and
  • The original timeline for commencement of the residential development, completion of the development and sale of all housing units in the development expired on or after 1 February 2020. 

Eligible developers will be granted the extension automatically. No application is required.

The Stamp Duties (Housing Developers) (Remission of ABSD) Rules 2013 and the Stamp Duties (Non-Licensed Housing Developers) (Remission of ABSD) Rules 2015 have been amended to implement these changes.

Qualifying Certificate 

Under the QC regime, developers subject to the QC rules are to complete construction of all housing units in a residential project within five years from the date of issue of the QC or the collective sale order, and dispose of all housing units within two years from the issue of the Temporary Occupation Permit (“TOP”) or Certificate of Statutory Completion (“CSC”).

Under the temporary relief measures, developers applying to extend their existing completion and/or disposal deadline will be granted a waiver of extension charges of up to a total of six months. This will also apply to other SLA approvals requiring the completion and sale of all units in the residential development. To qualify for the waiver of extension charges, the following conditions must be met:

  • The QC or SLA approval requiring the completion and sale of all units in the residential development was issued on or before 1 June 2020; and
  • The original timeline for completion and sale of units in the residential development expired on or after 1 February 2020.

If you hold a QC or other SLA approval and qualify for the concessions, we would be pleased to assist you to apply to the SLA Land Dealings Approval Unit for the concessions. Please note that applications must be made by 1 December 2020.

Temporary relief measures for individuals

Under the ABSD regime, a Singaporean married couple purchasing a second residential property jointly are required to sell their first residential property within the specified timeline to be eligible for remission of ABSD paid on their second residential property. The specified timeline for sale of the first residential property is:

  • Six months after the date of purchase of the second property, if it is a completed property; or
  • Six months after the issue date of the TOP or CSC, whichever is the earlier, if the second property was uncompleted at the time of purchase.

Under the temporary relief measures, the specified sale timeline for remission of ABSD paid on the second residential property will be extended by six months, provided the following conditions are met:

  • The couple’s second residential property was jointly purchased on or before 1 June 2020; and
  • The original timeline for sale of the first residential property expired on or after 1 February 2020. 

The application for the remission of ABSD must be made within six months after the date of sale of the first residential property.

The Stamp Duties (Spouses) (Remission of ABSD) Rules 2013 have been amended to implement this change.

Reference materials

The following materials are available from the Ministry of National Development website www.mnd.gov.sg and the Singapore Statutes Online website sso.agc.gov.sg:

Further information

Allen & Gledhill has a Covid-19 Resource Centre on our website www.allenandgledhill.com that contains knowhow and materials on legal and regulatory aspects of the Covid-19 crisis.

In addition, we have a cross-disciplinary Covid-19 Legal Task Force consisting of Partners across various practice areas to provide rapid assistance. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at covid19taskforce@allenandgledhill.com.

 

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