SINGAPORE: Landlords may be penalised for evicting tenants who are on home quarantine orders or leave of absence (LOA) during the coronavirus situation, said the Government on Monday (Feb 3).
"Landlords found to have irresponsibly evicted their residents may face restrictions and even be barred from renting out their flats to foreign work pass holders in future," said a joint press release by the National Development, Education, and Manpower ministries.
"The Government has received feedback of landlords evicting tenants who are placed on LOA or home quarantine orders, and based on their nationality," the press release added.
"Guidelines are available for landlords to adopt should they have a tenant who is on home quarantine orders or LOA. There is no need for landlords to evict persons who are serving their home quarantine orders or LOA."
Last Friday, Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran said there have been "troubling or disturbing" stories of landlords who are evicting people because they are either on home quarantine or an LOA.
"We are all in this together. Those on quarantine or leave of absence are subject to this for the sake of the wider community so that the rest of us do not run the risk of infection," he had said.
"SIMPLY PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES"
A 14-day leave of absence has been implemented since Friday by the Ministry of Health for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders who had travelled to mainland China within the last 14 days.
Nearly 1,000 students and staff members were on leave of absence after returning from mainland China, the Education Ministry said on Friday.
On Monday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that were no new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Singapore. As of noon on Monday, 262 suspect cases have tested negative for the virus, while test results for another 32 cases are pending.
MOH also identified 256 close contacts of the 18 cases and of the 187 who are still in Singapore, 186 are being quarantined or isolated. Efforts are ongoing to contact the remaining close contact.
The ministries said in the press release on Monday that people on home quarantine or LOA "are well, and that these are simply precautionary measures to protect Singaporeans from the spread" of the novel coronavirus.
"Those who are unwell with fever or respiratory symptoms will be sent to a hospital for assessment and isolated if they are a suspect case," added the ministries.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a ministerial taskforce to deal with the novel coronavirus situation, told Parliament on Monday he had heard feedback of landlords "stigmatising tenants based on their nationality", and evicting Chinese nationals who are on an LOA.
"I can appreciate that Singaporeans are very concerned about the wellbeing of themselves and their family members," he said.
"But if landlords start turning tenants away, then our overall containment efforts will be much harder and we end up endangering ourselves and others.
"The outcome will be completely counterproductive. We should not condone such irresponsible actions that will end up putting Singapore and Singaporeans at greater risk."