Written Answer by Minister for Law K Shanmugam to PQ on Outcome of Cases of Disputed Rental Waiver
04 July 2022 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Dr Tan Wu Meng (Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC)
To ask the Minister for Law to date, under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 Rental Waiver Framework (a) how many cases of disputed rental waiver are on record; (b) how many cases were (i) referred to an assessor and (ii) ruled in favour of the tenant; and (c) of the cases ruled in favour of the tenant, how many landlords have not complied; and (d) what recourse is available to affected sole proprietor micro SME tenants with limited means and bargaining power.
- As of 15 June 2022, 111 applications were received from landlords seeking an assessment of the tenant-occupier’s eligibility under the Rental Waiver Framework (RWF), or if their tenant had complied with the necessary steps to enjoy the rental waiver, in accordance with the service requirements as set out in the Act. The Rental Waiver Assessors had made 46 determinations in favor of the tenant. In the other cases, the tenant was either found to have been ineligible for the waiver or had failed to comply with the service requirements.
- Another 115 applications were received from landlords seeking a reversal or reduction of their rental waiver obligations, either on the grounds of financial hardship, or on just and equitable grounds given the circumstances of the case. For example, an Assessor would consider if significant prior assistance had been provided by the landlord to the tenant. In 85 cases, the Rental Waiver Assessors had made determinations in favor of the tenant, in that the rental waiver obligations were not reduced.
- The determinations made by the Rental Waiver Assessors are binding on all parties to an application and are non-appealable.
- For eligible tenants, the rental waiver will apply automatically by operation of law if they meet the criteria and fulfil the service requirements as set out in the Act. This means that the tenant does not have to pay the rent that has been waived under the Act. If rent was already paid, then the waiver will apply to the next most immediate month. This mechanism allows tenants to effect the rental waiver without the need for the landlord’s agreement, including in cases where an assessment is made in their favor.
- In a small proportion of cases where the tenants are unable to apply the waiver automatically, for example, where the lease has ended or is ending, then the RWF provides that the landlord must refund the two weeks of rent to the tenant, and this is deemed as a debt due to the tenant. The tenant can commence legal proceedings to recover that amount. If a SME tenant meets the eligibility criteria to qualify for legal aid, they can approach the Legal Aid Bureau to seek legal advice on the recovery.
Last updated on 04 July 2022