Dorm operators and employers urged to give leeway on rental contracts

Many workers were moved from their dormitories to other temporary accommodations.
Many workers were moved from their dormitories to other temporary accommodations.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - As migrant workers are rehoused according to new rules to prevent Covid-19 transmission, guidelines have been set to help dormitory operators and employers come to mutual agreement on existing rental contracts.

The Ministry of Manpower, the Building and Construction Authority and the Economic Development Board said on Monday (Sept 14) that they have asked that employers resolve outstanding rental arrears with dormitory operators even if contracts have expired, or if they want to terminate or modify existing contracts.

During the pandemic, many workers were moved from their dormitories to other temporary accommodations as the authorities fought to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The new guidelines come as employers can choose to rehouse their workers, for instance, so that those working on the same project live in the same place, or move them around within the same accommodation.

The authorities suggested that employers discuss with dorm operators how they can segregate workers along those lines, or consider the reasonable termination clauses if offered by the dormitory operator.

The authorities also asked dormitory operators to consider allowing existing tenants to terminate rental contracts early if the tenants provide reasonable notice when moving to other accommodation, and waive termination penalties.

Dorm operators are also encouraged to allow existing tenants to terminate rental contracts without penalties if they are moving to other rooms that have different rental costs but are within the same dormitory.

The authorities proposed that operators provide some rental rebate to employers which had temporarily moved their migrant workers to alternative non-government accommodation but continued to pay for their dorm accommodation with a view to returning.

"This takes into consideration that the operator would not have to incur utilities and manpower costs to take care of the migrant workers who had temporarily moved out of the dormitory," they added.


"Similarly, employers are advised to not demand for a full waiver of the rental fees as operators incur costs in maintaining the empty room during this period."

Government agencies will monitor and review the effectiveness of the guidelines, said the authorities, adding that steps will be taken to expedite the process of grouping workers and rehousing them if necessary.