Bill Ricquier Joint Managing Director, Singapore
Temporary Relief for Tenants in Singapore during the COVID-19 Pandemic – Part 1
It is impossible to exaggerate the significance of landlord and tenant law in Singapore. The steady accretion of land to ultimate Government ownership since the passing of the Land Acquisition Act in 1966 has inevitably reduced the amount of land held in fee simple.
More to the point, almost all businesses in Singapore, whoever owns and operates them, rent their business premises. This is most obviously the case in respect of industrial premises rented from the Jurong Town Corporation, but it is equally true of businesses operating in retail areas such as Orchard Road, and offices in the Central Business District. For a variety of reasons, it just makes sense to rent.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy across all sectors, probably nowhere more dramatically than in the retail, entertainment and hospitality sectors. You did not need to be a business guru to understand this at the height of the Circuit Breaker. All you needed to do was go for a walk in or drive through one of Singapore’s traditionally busy shopping or business areas. Footfall wasn’t simply reduced; for obvious reasons it had effectively vanished completely.
As in many countries, the Singapore Government wasted no time in providing relief for those affected by the pandemic. The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 (Act No. 14 of 2020) (the “original Act”), was passed by Parliament in a single day, 7 April, and came into force on various dates in April (apart from Part 4, dealing with the conduct of meetings, which was deemed to come into effect on 27 March.
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