Landlords could be made to pass on rebates: DPM Heng

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat noted that landlords and tenants have a long-term relationship. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Government is prepared to take legislative action to ensure that landlords pass on savings from property tax rebates to their tenants, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking after touring an aquaculture facility in Neo Tiew yesterday, he noted that landlords and tenants have a long-term relationship, hence "it is important that tenants which are viable should be taken care of".

"I want to urge the landlords to not only pass on these rebates, but to take care of the tenants," he said.

Under the $48.4 billion supplementary budget announced last week, eligible commercial properties adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak need not pay property tax this year. This is up from the 15 per cent to 30 per cent property tax rebate initially announced in February's Budget.

Some 60,000 properties qualify for the 100 per cent rebate, most of which are retail and food and beverage properties, including commercial shophouses, said the Ministry of Finance.

Owners of qualifying properties can expect to receive their refunds by June 30.

However, business groups have said that tenants may urgently need rental relief because plunging sales have led to cash-flow problems.

Some industry players, such as Breadtalk Group, have said they are cutting staff salaries temporarily to save costs.

Yesterday, No Signboard said it will temporarily shut its seafood restaurant at The Central mall in Clarke Quay for at least one month to "control costs and improve operational efficiency".

Mr Heng said: "Just as our package is to help viable companies to stay afloat, to make sure we protect jobs for our workers... so, in the same way, we have to do this together.

"I will be looking at what our lenders are doing, and if there is a need for us to take legislative action, we are prepared to do that."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2020, with the headline Landlords could be made to pass on rebates: DPM Heng . Subscribe