Bigger rent waiver for industrial, office, agricultural tenants: Heng Swee Keat

Qualifying commercial properties will now pay zero property tax for 2020.
Qualifying commercial properties will now pay zero property tax for 2020. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - The Government will increase the rent waiver for industrial, office and agricultural tenants of government agencies to one month, up from 0.5 month announced in the Resilience package last month (March).

"The Government will continue to lead by example in supporting tenants," Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said in Parliament on Monday (April 6) afternoon as he announced the Solidarity Budget to mitigate the impact of the "circuit-breaker" measures starting Tuesday to stem escalating Covid-19 infections.

A new Bill will also be passed on Tuesday to let businesses and individuals defer certain contractual obligations - such as paying rent, repaying loans, or completing work - for a period, because of the impact from Covid-19.

In addition, new legislation will be introduced in Parliament this week to ensure that landlords pass on property tax rebates in full to their tenants. Property owners who fail to do so unconditionally "without reasonable excuse" will be guilty of an offence.

Commercial properties that qualified for Budget 2020's rebates of 15 to 30 per cent will now pay zero property tax for 2020. A property tax rebate of 30 per cent for 2020 had earlier been granted for all other non-residential properties, such as offices and industrial properties.

If passed, the new legislation will ensure that property owners pass on to their tenants the full amount of property tax rebate received for each property tax account.

It will also ensure that the rebate is passed on in a timely manner according to a prescribed timeline, and prevent property owners from imposing conditions.

A valuation review panel - comprising members from the Valuation Review Board constituted under the Property Tax Act - will settle disputes between the property owner and the tenant.

Meanwhile, stallholders in hawker centres managed by National Environment Agency (NEA) or NEA-appointed operators will continue to enjoy three months of rent waivers, up from one month announced in Budget 2020. Meanwhile, commercial tenants will continue to receive two months of rent waivers, Mr Heng added.