Coronavirus: Landlords who evict tenants on home quarantine, leave of absence or based on nationality may be barred from renting out flats

In a photo taken on Dec 27, 2013, a man with his luggage waits for a lift. Landlords found to have irresponsibly evicted residents on Leave of Absence or quarantine may face restrictions, be barred from renting out flats. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Landlords who evict tenants who are on home quarantine order or leave of absence (LOA), or based on nationality during the coronavirus situation could be barred from renting to foreign work pass holders in future.

In a joint statement on Monday night (Feb 3), the Manpower, Education and National Development ministries said that the government had received feedback about landlords evicting such tenants.

"Landlords found to have irresponsibly evicted their residents may face restrictions and even be barred from renting out their flats to foreign work pass holders in future," the statement said.

It added that there are guidelines for landlords with tenants on home quarantine or LOA, and that there is "no need" to evict such tenants.

The ministries reiterated that those placed on home quarantine orders or LOA, who could be workers or students, "are well, and that these are simply precautionary measures to protect Singaporeans" from the spread of the virus.

They added that those who are unwell or with a fever or respiratory symptoms will be sent to a hospital for assessment and isolated if they are a suspect case.

Travel restrictions on those with a recent travel history to China, including a 14-day LOA for returning Singapore residents and long-term pass holders, kicked in late last Saturday.

The Straits Times reported on Monday cases of landlords closing their doors on tenants returning from China. Workers, and their employers and agents, were left scrambling to find alternative accommodation.

On Sunday, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said 30,000 work pass holders who are China nationals left Singapore over the Chinese New Year break and have not returned. But not all of them live in housing estates.

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The authorities are gathering data on who these workers are and where they are staying in Singapore.

She said landlords, dormitory operators or even co-tenants should not evict these people, as "by and large they are not unwell".

Similarly, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam called out those who spread anti-Chinese sentiments the same day. Citing examples of landlords evicting tenants who are on home quarantine or LOA, he said: "You know they are on leave of absence or home quarantine so that the rest of Singapore, all of us, can be safe. So if they are tossed out onto the streets, where are they going to go?"

There are 18 cases of coronavirus infections in Singapore, two of which are Singaporeans. The rest are Chinese nationals who had travelled from Wuhan, the capital city of China's Hubei province and the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.


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