Over 38,400 to get direct rental aid ahead of schedule

$216m aid will help tenants, owner-occupiers get through latest round of Covid-19 curbs

More than 38,400 tenants and owner-occupiers will receive funds directly from the Government from today to tide over the latest round of tightened Covid-19 safety measures, which are in place until Aug 18.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said the $216 million in financial aid for the 38,400 tenants and owner-occupiers comes two weeks ahead of schedule.

This Rental Support Scheme payout will be equivalent to half a month of rent for the period of May 14 to 29.

"We will provide the rental support directly to tenants, without going through their landlords. This lets tenants receive the cash promptly and reduces compliance burden for landlords," he said in the post. "I hope this rental relief will help with your cash flow in this period of heightened alert."

The rental support payout was announced on May 28 to support businesses with rental costs as part of a package of support measures to help them through restrictions imposed from mid-May to mid-June to curb a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and eligible non-profit organisations with an annual revenue not exceeding $100 million, and which are tenants of qualifying commercial properties, will receive the cash payout.

A second payout, announced last month following the latest round of tightening, will be disbursed in October.

In a joint statement, the Ministry of Finance and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said those eligible to receive the funds and who have PayNow or existing Giro arrangements with Iras can expect to receive the rental support cash payouts from today. Those without such arrangements will receive cheques by Aug 20.

The two agencies also said the cash payout will not be disbursed automatically to tenants who rent only part of a property, or to licensees. It will also not be automatically given to tenants who rent a mixed-use property, such as a shophouse used for both retail and residential purposes.

Eligible tenants and owner-occupiers who do not receive the payout notification should submit an application to Iras.

Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee said the scheme is useful to businesses because the rental relief comes direct from the Government. "In terms of the cash flow, there is timeliness. It is straightforward and not cumbersome, so it benefits the businesses a lot."

The rental support comes amid tightened rules that, among other things, prohibit dining in and restrict group sizes to two - measures that have badly impacted many businesses here.

The Ministry of Health yesterday reported 96 new locally transmitted coronavirus cases, 38 of which were linked to previous cases and already quarantined. Another 20 linked cases were not in quarantine when detected. The remaining 38 new cases were unlinked, up from 30 on Wednesday.

Yesterday was also the first day of a near-blanket ban on visits to hospitals, in a move to guard against transmission in these facilities after Covid-19 clusters involving staff and patients emerged in Yishun Community Hospital and Changi General Hospital.

Meanwhile, one of Singapore's most popular wet markets - Chong Pang Market - reopened after a two-week closure.

In another Facebook post, Mr Wong said he and his multi-ministry task force co-chairs will give an update on Singapore's Covid-19 situation soon. He had said previously that the task force will review the restrictions in early August.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2021, with the headline 'Over 38,400 to get direct rental aid ahead of schedule'. Subscribe