About S$900mil in cash grants was given out to eligible property owners under the rental relief framework last year. Tenants did not need to pay rent for the period covered under the framework. The owners also received S$1.8bil of property tax rebates, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore told The Straits Times. SINGAPORE: As the pandemic swept Singapore and many distressed tenants found themselves struggling to cope with their rentals, a relief framework put in place last year kept many businesses afloat while propping up their landlords. About S$900mil in cash grants was given out to eligible property owners under the rental relief framework last year. Tenants did not need to pay rent for the period covered under the framework. The owners also received S$1.8bil of property tax rebates, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore told The Straits Times. In addition, 115,990 notices of cash grant were issued to property owners with tenants who were eligible for rental relief. While the scope of assistance may have supported many commercial and industrial tenants, which range from retail shops and services to offices and industrial outfits, some businesses noted that they faced additional challenges as well. As a result, businesses and individuals filed more than 8,400 notifications for relief to the Ministry of Law last year under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, as they were unable to fulfil contractual obligations amid the pandemic. Of the 8,428 notifications for relief served last year, 3,005 involved leases and licenses of non-residential property, according to the Ministry of Law. Some 1,869 applicants sought to have their cases heard by an assessor because there was a dispute. Of these, 769 were applications relating to leases. “We were heartened to see that of the notifications for relief filed, the majority did not require an assessor to make a determination. We also saw parties who originally applied for a determination but were subsequently able to negotiate and reach an agreement by themselves, ” a Ministry of Law spokesperson said. The relief period expired on Nov 19 last year. The reliefs were wide-ranging and protected businesses from legal and enforcement actions or from their goods from being repossessed and leases from being terminated, among other things. Under the rental relief framework, which provides direct rental waivers, 3,214 applications for assessment were filed as at the end of last year. Of that number, 2,123 applications were filed to assess tenants’ eligibility for rental relief; 720 for landlord’s assessment for financial hardship, and 371 to compute rental waiver, Ministry of Law said. Eligible tenants and sub-tenants in the food and beverage and commercial sector could get up to four months of rent waived - two months each from the government and the landlord. Those in the office and industrial sector could get up to two months of rent waived. The additional rent waivers were to be applied from April through July last year for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in commercial properties and April through May for those in industrial/office properties, as long as their leases were in force on April 1. Nearly 260,000 SMEs employing more than two million workers stood to benefit from these measures, as many were hit hard by the pandemic. — Straits Times/ANN If not for the rental relief framework and other measures, the downturn would have been far worst, Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Asme), said. — Straits Times/ANN
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