Restaurant association ‘deeply disappointed’ at landlords for not following through on promises of rental rebates
SINGAPORE — Since the Budget was delivered in mid-February, several big landlords have publicly promised to offer rental rebates and other forms of financial relief to their tenants, but these offers have yet to be fulfilled, the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) said on Monday (March 2).
SINGAPORE — Since the Budget was delivered in mid-February, several big landlords publicly promised to offer rental rebates and other forms of financial relief to their tenants, but these offers have yet to be fulfilled, the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) said on Monday (March 2).
Some tenants reported that they were given rebates that were less than what was publicly promised, while others said they did not receive confirmation of any such relief at all, RAS said in a statement.
“We are deeply disappointed in the landlords’ lack of follow through in spite of public announcements of support for the industry during this crisis,” said Mr Edwin Fong, the executive director of RAS.
RAS’ statement comes two weeks after Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, in his Budget speech, urged landlords to pass on the savings from a 15 per cent property tax rebate to their tenants by reducing rentals.
The tax rebates were part of a S$4 billion package to help businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
In the days after the Budget speech, several mall developers, including CapitaLand, Frasers Property and UOL, released public statements to say that they were answering Mr Heng’s call and would pass on the savings of the rebate to their tenants.
On Feb 13, the RAS also called for landlords to follow in the footsteps of Jewel Changi, which has slashed rents by 50 per cent for two months.
Previously, TODAY spoke to several retailers and F&B outlets who painted a very grim picture of the situation, with some reporting that their business had slumped by as much as 80 per cent.
In its Monday statement, RAS said that only Jewel Changi, Changi Airport Group, as well as Government agencies JTC and NParks have written notices on rental rebates to their tenants.
“All other landlords and mall owners have been slow to react to the appeals of their F&B tenants,” read the statement.
In the case of CapitaLand, RAS said that the developer promised to offer a 50 per cent rental rebate to RAS during an industry meeting on Feb 21, which was also attended by representatives of government agency Enterprise Singapore.
However, RAS checks showed that F&B tenants operating in CapitaLand’s urban malls received only a 10 per cent rebate, while those operating at Clarke Quay got 15 per cent.
“For CapitaLand’s suburban malls, which form the bulk of its portfolio of shopping malls, no rental rebates have been granted,” read the statement.
CapitaLand had also said that it would release tenants’ one-month security deposit to offset rental payments for the month of March.
The developer added that it would also disburse rental reliefs to tenants in a targeted manner, which may include flexible rental payments and a one-time rental rebate of up to half-a-month for eligible tenants.
“Many of the F&B outlets, especially those run by smaller operators, have an urgent need for assistance to alleviate their cash flow situation and mitigate the uncertainties they face in the current climate brought on by Covid-19,” said Mr Fong.
“We remain hopeful that the landlords will honour their word to roll out their rental rebates. The landlords need to fulfil their role as partners in helping the F&B industry save jobs and secure the livelihood of our employees,” he added.
WHAT DEVELOPERS SAY
In response to TODAY’s queries on the apparent delay in offering rebates, CapitaLand’s president (Singapore and international) Jason Leow said it is “unfortunate” that RAS has not “fully comprehended” the entire relief package the developer is offering to its tenants, despite the firm’s “ongoing engagements” with RAS.
Mr Leow reiterated CapitaLand’s previous public announcements, stating that the Covid-19 outbreak has impacted different malls and trade categories differently, and therefore rental rebates will be disbursed to tenants in a targeted manner.
While the firm is still in the midst of communicating with individual tenants on their relief package, Mr Leow said CapitaLand has granted rental rebates of 20 to 30 per cent over two months to eligible tenants in its downtown malls, as they have been more affected by the outbreak.
“We aim to complete reviewing all our leases by this month, by which time, tenants will be informed of their respective rental relief packages,” said Mr Leow.
He also said that tenants do not have to worry about their rents for March as it will be offset against their one-month security deposit.
When asked why there has been a delay in offering rebates to their tenants, a spokesperson for Frasers Property Retail said savings from the property tax rebates will be passed on to qualifying tenants over the next two weeks, adding that this payment precedes the release of funds from the Government.
The developer will also be assisting tenants to convert security deposits paid in cash to Banker’s Guarantees.
“We will monitor the situation closely, and if the situation worsens, we will consider rolling out additional support such as rental reliefs,” said the spokesperson.
UOL’s chief investment and asset officer Jesline Goh said the company has issued letters to eligible retail tenants at its malls while waiting to receive the rebate from the Government.
“We have since received some positive feedback from our tenants. Shopper footfall has been encouraging over the last two weekends at our malls.
“The situation is evolving rapidly and we will continue to monitor closely and adapt our measures accordingly,” added Ms Goh.