Suntec City waives April rent for mall tenants amid enhanced 'circuit breaker' rules

Suntec City waives April rent for mall tenants amid enhanced 'circuit breaker' rules

File Photo Suntec City (1)
File photo of Suntec City. (File Photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: All retail tenants at Suntec City will get a rental waiver for the month of April to cope with temporary closures and disruptions, the mall announced on Monday (Apr 6) as it stepped up support for its tenants ahead of a month-long “circuit breaker” aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

This waiver is “funded entirely” by the landlord and will also be extended to tenants providing essential services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, food courts, restaurants and banks, its statement said.

From Apr 7 to May 4, most workplaces will have to shut, with only essential businesses allowed to remain open. Suntec City said it will work closely with its tenants to comply with these rules.

As part of its enhanced rental assistance package, the mall will also pass on the full savings of the Government’s property tax rebates to all retail tenants next month.

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“As a portion of these savings had been passed on in March, the balance will subsequently be passed on to all tenants in the form of rental rebates for the period from May 1 to May 31,” it said, noting that this will amount to approximately another month of rental reduction for most tenants in May.

Together with the one-month security deposit that retail tenants can draw down to offset rental payments, almost all tenants will enjoy help that is “equivalent to a total of three months’ rent”, it added.

“We will continue to work closely with the authorities and all stakeholders to overcome this unprecedented crisis,” Suntec City’s statement read.

FULL RENTAL REBATES FOR CDL TENANTS IN APRIL

Also on Monday, City Developments (CDL) said it will be passing on the “full quantum” of the property tax rebates to its tenants.

Including its office tenants, it is committing more than S$17 million in property tax and rental rebates.

The group said it has disbursed rental rebates to qualifying retail tenants “in a targeted manner” last month, and will continue to do so.

It will provide its 426 retail tenants with rental rebates amounting to 100 per cent in April and 50 per cent next month.

More support may be “progressively rolled out” after May as it monitors the situation closely, the commercial landlord said in a statement.

The group added that rental reliefs will be given out in a “calibrated manner” given the varying impact of the pandemic on different malls and trade categories.

“Tenants facing severe cash flow issues will be given more flexibility in rental payments,” it said, adding that as the situation continues to evolve, it is reviewing requests from tenants on a case-by-case basis.

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These come a day before the introduction of a Bill that would ensure landlords pass on the property tax rebates in full to their smaller tenants.

Under the S$48 billion Resilience Budget announced on Mar 26, qualifying commercial properties, such as hotels, serviced apartments, tourist attractions, shops and restaurants, will pay no property tax this year. This is a marked increase from the initial 15 to 30 per cent property tax rebate announced in February’s Budget.

Businesses in other non-residential properties, such as offices and industrial properties, will get a rebate of 30 per cent.

READ: 'If this goes on, I might quit': Mall tenants want rental rebates soon to counter COVID-19 hit

Retail tenants, especially those in the F&B and retail sectors, have been calling for rental help for months in what they perceive as slow action by landlords to translate the rebates into savings for them.

As the COVID-19 outbreak dragged on with stricter distancing measures being rolled out, these smaller businesses also want landlords to do more beyond rental rebates, such as having retail rents pegged solely to their gross turnover (GTO) for a temporary period.

“We need mall operators to bear their fair share burden on rental rebates beyond the 100 per cent property tax rebate pass-through,” said the SG Tenants United for Fairness, an informal grouping made up of retailers and F&B operators, on Monday.

“We call on all mall operators to fully waive rental payments for all businesses who are closed during circuit breaker period and move to 15 per cent GTO terms for all other businesses.”

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Source: CNA/sk(gs)

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