Industry bodies representing landlords and tenants in Singapore have formed a temporary committee to discuss long-term standing issues on rental and tenancy. The deliberations are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The committee, which is being called the Fair Tenancy Pro Tem Committee, is set up under the auspices of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and chaired by Nomura Singapore chairman Michael Lim.
It involves the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas) and Reit Association of Singapore (Reitas), whose members come from the majority of the largest commercial landlords in Singapore. Members from the Fair Tenancy Framework Industry Committee (FTFIC), which was recently formed to lobby for legislation to address possible power imbalance between landlords and tenants, are also involved with the committee.
FTFIC comprises representatives from SBF’s SME Committee, Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Restaurant Association of Singapore, Singapore Retail Association and Singapore Tenants United for Fairness.
The Pro Tem Committee held their first meeting last week when parties shared some of their long-standing concerns and clarified their perspectives. They also discussed FTFIC’s recommendations and concluded that several recommendations can be resolved in the short term, while others would require further discussion.
“It is timely and imperative that both parties work together to meet the challenges confronting the industry. The formation of this committee is a first step towards bringing about change to the ecosystem,” said SBF chief executive Ho Meng Kit.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused an increase in tensions between landlords and tenants. This was a result of some landlords being viewed as being reluctant to lend help despite having profited for years off their tenants.
As such, this discussion is ever more important now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has disrupted business and caused wide scale havoc on the Singaporean economy. Businesses, especially SMEs struggle to survive, even in the post-circuit breaker period, and a resolution to tenancy disputes is vital to ensure the continued operation of the nation’s small businesses.
The issue also thrust what tenants have perceived to be an unequal relationship with landlords and unfair clauses in tenancy agreements under the spotlight, leading some quarters to lobby for fairer tenancy practices.