Two malls in the news recently for having retailers with unethical practices have been asked to ensure their landlords enforce stricter rental agreements.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) sent letters to the managements of Sim Lim Square and People's Park Complex asking them to change their rules and by-laws, making it mandatory for landlords to ensure retailers run their businesses fairly.
In particular, it said rental agreements should state that retailers must conduct their business according to the fair practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA).
Under the Act, unfair practices include taking advantage of a consumer by exerting undue pressure and making false claims about goods.
"If the retailers or landlords breach the CPFTA in their rental agreements, the MCST should have the authority to compel the landlords to terminate the rental agreement and, if necessary, impose severe penalties on the landlords and/or retailers that are in breach of the Act," said Case executive director Seah Seng Choon in a statement yesterday.
The Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) should also have the power to force a landlord to sell his property if he runs a dishonest business or allows his tenant to do so, he added.
The move by Case comes after several shops in Sim Lim Square and People's Park Complex came under fire last month for using unsavoury sales tactics. One case in particular - where a Vietnamese tourist was seen on his knees begging for a refund after he was allegedly overcharged for an iPhone by a shop owner in Sim Lim Square - was widely publicised online. From January to last month, 106 complaints were made against stores in Sim Lim Square while 156 complaints were made against shops in People's Park Complex, the highest for a mall here.
Mr Seah called on the managements of both malls to "do their part to strengthen the enforcement process against recalcitrant offenders".
The management of Sim Lim Square said it received the letter yesterday and is seeking legal advice about some of Case's suggestions. The management of People's Park Complex could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, some businesses feel that while the intention of the measures is good, it would be difficult to enforce them. "The management does not have the power to enforce such rules between landlords and tenants and, at the end of the day, any rule that is not properly enforced will have no value," said Mr Vinod Wadhwa, 54, director of IT business Costronic Technologies, which has been in Sim Lim Square for 17 years.