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WP politician: About time Govt made sure rental rebates get to tenants

"Many small landlords have and will ignore the Government's call to pass down rebates"

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Singapore — The Government should look into ensuring that landlords pass down rental rebates to their tenants, according to Workers’ Party politician and former Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong.

Mr Yee’s comments in a Facebook post on Wednesday (April 1) came after the property tax rebate announced in the Unity Budget was enhanced in the second Resilience Budget to a higher amount and to cover more types of properties.

For 2020, qualifying commercial properties that have been more badly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak will pay no property tax. This is a step up from the 15 to 30 per cent  property tax rebate announced earlier. Furthermore, businesses in other non-residential properties such as offices and industrial properties affected by the Covid-19 situation will be granted a property tax rebate of 30 per cent for the year 2020.

An article on gov.sg says that “landlords are urged to fully pass on the rebate to tenants by reducing rentals, to directly ease the cash flow and cost pressures faced by tenants”.

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Speaking “as a business operator with leased property for our operations”, Mr Yee wrote in the Facebook post that “many small landlords have and will ignore the Government’s call to pass down rebates and just say thank you for the money”.

Adding that there are many small landlords with a few properties each, Mr Yee noted that the smaller landlords are not big enough to be affected by bad publicity.

“This rebate puts tension between landlords and tenants because tenants have to go plea with landlord to give them rebates,” he added.

Concluding his post, Mr Yee emphasised: “Yes, please pass some legislation soon and correct this poor execution. Don’t just be prepared to do it. Do it.”

In another Facebook post last week (March 26), Mr Yee brought up another issue —  mobilising civil servants during the coming elections.

He wrote: “During GE, a large number of civil servants, especially teachers will be mobilised for polling duties. Can they refuse to work because they want to avoid unnecessary exposure to Covid-19?”

He also asked: “Can they demand to be provided with masks because there will be some nature of work that may need closer proximity to voters (e.g. checking of register).”

Earlier today, the Singapore government announced that it may take legislative action against commercial landlords who do not pass on property tax rebates to their tenants amid the Covid-19 slump.

“I’ll be looking at what landlords are doing and if there’s a need for us to take legislative action, we are prepared to do that,” said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Wednesday (Apr. 1), according to a CNA report. /TISG

Read related: Ex-WP NCMP asks: Can civil servants mobilized during GE refuse to work because they want to avoid unnecessary exposure to Covid-19?

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