New push for mediation in tenancy disputes

Tenants and landlords of commercial premises will be encouraged to resolve disputes through mediation under a new initiative by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC).

The organisations have pledged to help educate renters and building owners about lease agreements and their responsibilities through jointly developed training programmes, seminars and workshops.

"Mediation is recognised as a cost-effective and efficient means to resolve contractual disputes given the long-drawn and costly alternative of litigation," said a joint statement yesterday.

SMC will offer preferential mediation rates to tenancy disputes where the sum in dispute is up to $60,000.

Parties can also schedule a mediation session to take place within seven working days - faster than the usual time to set up a meeting, SMC said. The number of cases mediated at the SMC has more than doubled compared with 2009, the statement said.

About 75 per cent of the 102 tenancy matters referred to the SMC since 1997 have been settled.

The joint statement cited a dispute that was scheduled for mediation within 15 working days after submission of a request. The matter would have taken about two years to reach the courts, but was settled through mediation at the SMC within one day.

SBF chief executive Ho Meng Kit said yesterday: "As restructuring continues, the perennial issues plaguing businesses are not new, with rentals being one of them.

"In relation to tenancy, tenants and landlords do not stand on opposing sides. Instead, there are common interests which allow both parties to work together to strengthen not only individual bottom lines, but their respective industries as a whole."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2015, with the headline 'New push for mediation in tenancy disputes'. Print Edition | Subscribe