}

15 October 2021

On 5 October 2021, the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment No. 4) Act 2021, which provides for a rental waiver framework (“Framework”) for small and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”) and specified non-profit organisations (“NPOs”) affected by the tightened safe management measures during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) (“P2(HA)”), came into force. The Framework aims to ensure the fair co-sharing of rental obligations over the P2(HA) periods between the Government, landlords and eligible tenants, by requiring landlords to provide a rental waiver of two weeks of gross rent to eligible SME and NPO tenant-occupiers of qualifying commercial properties. To operationalise the Framework, the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Rental Waiver Due to Covid-19 Event in 2021) Regulations 2021 also came into operation on 5 October 2021.

Eligibility criteria

An SME or NPO tenant-occupier (including a subtenant and a licensee) of a qualifying commercial property must meet all of the following criteria to qualify for the rental waiver:

  • Its annual revenue does not exceed S$100 million in FY2019.
  • Its lease or licence must be:
    • entered into or renewed before 20 July 2021; and
    • in force for the entire period from 5 to 18 August 2021 (both dates inclusive).
  • Its lease or licence must have been stamped on or before 2 August 2021. (An SME or NPO tenant-occupier who meets all eligibility criteria but has an unstamped lease or licence may make a manual application for rental waiver. Such cases will be assessed by a rental waiver assessor.)
  • It must have suffered at least a 20% drop in average monthly revenue during both P2(HA) periods (16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021 and 22 July 2021 to 18 August 2021, all dates inclusive), as compared to the Phase 3 period (28 December 2020 to 7 May 2021, both dates inclusive).
  • If the business is part of a Singapore group of entities, the group’s annual revenue must not exceed S$100 million in FY2019. (This does not apply to SMEs that are not part of any group of companies, or NPOs.)

Claim process

Tenants

In a press release issued on 6 October 2021, the Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) stated that tenants who received the second payout under the Rental Support Scheme (“RSS”) administered by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore will receive a Notice of Rental Waiver (“Notice”) by post from MinLaw from 6 October 2021. Tenants who receive the Notice will not automatically qualify for the rental waiver. Instead, they will have to self-assess if they meet all the eligibility criteria. If eligible, they must:

  • prepare the supporting documents (e.g. profit and loss statements) to prove their eligibility and complete the declaration form attached to the Notice; and
  • send copies of the Notice, the completed declaration form and the supporting documents to their immediate landlord, via email or registered post, within 28 calendar days from the date of the Notice.

The rental waiver will apply once an eligible tenant sends all the above documents to their landlord. It will apply first to any rent payable, including any associated interest or charges, for the period of 5 to 18 August 2021 (both days inclusive). If rent for 5 to 18 August 2021 has already been paid, the tenant’s next rental payment will be reduced by the equivalent amount.

Intermediary landlords

Intermediary landlords (i.e. landlords who sublet the property and are not the property owners) who wish to claim the rental waiver must send copies of all the documents they receive from their qualifying tenant to their immediate landlord, via email or registered post, within seven calendar days of receiving the documents from their tenant.

Intermediary landlords will receive the same amount of rental waiver from their immediate landlord, up to a cap of two weeks of the gross rent of the intermediary landlord. This applies regardless of whether the intermediary landlord meets the eligibility criteria.

Applications for second RSS payout and Notice

Tenants may not receive the second RSS payout and/or Notice automatically if they rent only part of a property, rent a mixed-use property (e.g. a shophouse for both retail and residential use), and/or are a licensee. MinLaw states that tenants who assess that they are eligible for the rental waiver under the Framework but have not received the second RSS payout and Notice by 15 October 2021 should make an application for the second RSS payout by 12 November 2021 at https://go.gov.sg/irss-rss2-tenant.

Assessment by rental waiver assessors

MinLaw encourages tenants and landlords to work out mutually agreeable arrangements that best address their specific circumstances. Those who are unable to reach a compromise may make an application for a determination by an independent rental waiver assessor.

There are no charges for making an application. After an application is made, the landlord and the tenant may be asked to submit additional information or documents, or attend a hearing, either virtually or in person. The rental waiver assessor’s determination will be binding on all landlords and the tenant-occupier, and will not be appealable.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the MinLaw website www.mlaw.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.