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Enhancement of Temporary Measures to support Property Owners affected by the Covid-19 Outbreak

On 13 May 2020, Singapore’s Ministry of Law announced enhancements to the regulatory framework introduced by the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act to offer temporary relief to parties who have contractual obligations to fulfil on or after 1 February 2020 under specified scheduled contracts entered into, or renewed, before 25 March 2020. Eligible applicants may seek relief during the current relief period, which runs from 20 April 2020 to 19 October 2020 (both dates inclusive), by submitting a notification for relief. The links are available from the Ministry of Law’s website here.

The enhanced measures offer support to two (2) categories of individuals or corporates who have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • buyers of private residential property from housing developers and lessees acquiring new Housing & Development Board (“HDB”) residential units from the HDB, and
  • parties unilaterally imposed with increases of charges or interest rates under scheduled contracts.

The first category of beneficiaries are those who are parties to options to purchase, sale and purchase agreements and agreements for lease of private residential property and HDB units, which are acquired from a private housing developer or the HDB. Property zoned for mixed residential and business use will also be eligible. These beneficiaries are offered temporary relief through the extension of the list of scheduled contracts specified in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

The second category of beneficiaries are parties to scheduled contracts who are subjected to unilateral increases of any charges or interest rates payable under scheduled contracts, unless such increase

  • is permitted in the contract,
  • relates to the recovery of expenses reasonably incurred by the party who is in receipt of the notification for relief, or
  • is agreed to by the party who submits the notification for relief.

The enhanced measures were also announced alongside the commencement of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Transfer of Benefit of Property Tax Remission) Regulations 2020 which mandates the passing on to tenants of a corresponding portion of property tax remissions granted by the Government to owners of non-residential property. These regulations have been discussed in our previous update found here and take effect from 13 May 2020.

Thinking and preparing ahead

As we head towards the end of the extended circuit breaker period on 1 June 2020, with hope that step-down measures will be announced, businesses are encouraged to bear in mind that the initial 6-month relief period will come to a close on 19 October 2020. To prepare ahead, businesses and guarantors are encouraged to re-evaluate their financial obligations and cash forecasts, and to take a careful look at business relationships, existing strengths, and new opportunities in an awakening marketplace.

For more on this topic, please refer to our article on COVID-19 and Financial Distress: Practical Measures for Company Directors from the viewpoint of a Director – Steps to save your Company.

Quick Links

Infographic https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/files/Infographic-COVID-19Act-18Apr20.pdf

Notification for Relief Form 1. https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/files/Form-1.pdf

COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Alternative Arrangements for Meetings for Companies, Variable Capital Companies, Business Trusts, Unit Trusts and Debenture Holders) Order 2020

COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020

COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Prescribed Period) Order 2020

COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Temporary Relief for Inability to Perform Contracts) Regulations 2020

COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Temporary Relief for Inability to Perform Contracts) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Transfer of Benefit of Property Tax Remission) Regulations 2020

COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 (Amendment of Schedule) (No. 2) Order 2020

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Check out other COVID19 related updates and resources, HERE.