Temporary relief measures for property developers extended again due to Covid-19 disruptions

The latest extension to the temporary relief measures is set to provide targeted aid to developers in the near term. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Property developers here will be given an additional six months to complete residential, commercial and industrial projects in the light of disruptions to their manpower supply due to tightened border measures in April and May.

This comes after two six-month extensions that were announced in May and October last year.

Other temporary relief measures related to construction timeline requirements for residential projects under the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) and qualifying certificate (QC) regimes have also been extended by a further six months.

Both the ABSD and QC regimes essentially require developers to begin construction, complete it and sell all units in a residential development project within specified timelines or face financial penalties. This is to ensure that developers do not hoard and speculate on residential land.

In a joint statement on Monday (June 28), the National Development, Finance, Law, and Trade and Industry ministries said the construction sector has experienced continued manpower shortages and further disruptions to construction timelines.

This is a result of tighter border restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus, which have limited the inflow of migrant workers whom the construction sector is heavily reliant upon.

The latest extension to the temporary relief measures will provide targeted aid to developers in the near term, the ministries said.

They added: "The Government will continue to support developers and contractors in their efforts to complete development projects in a timely manner, while ensuring compliance with safety measures.

"With the extension to the measures, the Government expects developers to similarly provide relief and support to their main contractors and consultants. The Government will also continue to closely monitor the normalisation of activities in the construction industry, and the property sector."

The authorities said the temporary relief measures do not alter existing cooling measures that, in effect, keep residential property prices in check.

All housing developers will also continue to be subject to the prevailing ABSD regime.

The latest relief measures will be extended to residential developers whose land was awarded on or before May 7 this year; or whose land was directly alienated or had the lease renewed by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) on or before the same date.

In addition, the original timeline for completing construction must have expired on or after Feb 1 last year.

These conditions also apply to the commencement and completion of residential projects under the ABSD regime, as well as the project completion periods for commercial and industrial projects on government sites or on state land.

There will be no further extension of the specified timeline to sell all units in the eligible residential development.

This means eligible developers under the ABSD regime have 3½ years to start building a project, instead of two years without the relief measures.

Licensed developers previously had five years to complete and sell the units in projects. They now have an additional 1½ years to complete the project.

Meanwhile, eligible foreign housing developers under the QC regime will be granted a six-month waiver of extension charges if they apply to extend their existing completion deadlines.

To qualify, they must have been issued, on or before May 7, the QC or SLA approval requiring the completion of all units in the project.

The original timeline for completion of the residential development must also have expired on or after Feb 1 last year.

No further waiver of charges to extend the existing deadline to dispose of all units in the residential development project will be granted, the authorities said.

Developers can write to the SLA's Land Dealings Approval Unit by Dec 1 to apply for the waiver.

Those that have already applied for and obtained an extension of completion deadlines under the measures announced in May and October last year will automatically be granted the additional six-month waiver.

The ministries added: "The Government will continue to support the stakeholders as necessary and appropriate, as we transition to a new normal where Covid-19 becomes endemic."

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