Bigger rent waivers for industrial, office and agricultural tenants

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

The rent waiver for industrial, office and agricultural tenants of government agencies will be increased to one month, from the 0.5 month announced in the Resilience package last month.

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

A new Bill will also be passed today 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 per cent to 30 per cent will now pay zero property tax for this year. A property tax rebate of 30 per cent for this year had earlier been granted to 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 a property owner and tenant.

Meanwhile, stallholders in hawker centres managed by the National Environment Agency or NEA-appointed operators will continue to enjoy three months of rent waivers, up from one month announced during Budget 2020.

Commercial tenants will continue to receive two months of rent waivers, Mr Heng added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2020, with the headline Bigger rent waivers for industrial, office and agricultural tenants. Subscribe