Commitment expressed for Code of Conduct governing leasing of retail premises

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Business leaders representing the major retail landlords and tenants in Singapore have been appointed members of the Fair Tenancy Industry Committee (FTIC). The FTIC will take the lead and act as the custodian of the Code of Conduct (CoC) for the Leasing of Retail Premises in Singapore.

Major retail landlords such as CapitaLand, City Developments Limited (CDL), Frasers Property Retail, Mercatus Co-operative Limited, UOL Group and SPH Reit, as well as all Government landlords like JTC Corporation and Housing & Development Board have also committed to abide by the CoC with effect from today.

Mr Low Chee Wah, CEO of Frasers Property Retail, said, “The Code of Conduct guidelines mark a significant milestone in ensuring the sustainable wellbeing of the retail sector.

“From 1 June onwards, we will be adopting the CoC compliant lease agreements for new leases in our retail portfolio, and we have started working closely with our tenants on this front.

“The adoption of CoC by all stakeholders will be instrumental in forging a stronger landlord-tenant relationship, and we look forward to building a sustainable and vibrant retail ecosystem.”

Mr Andrew Kwan, CEO of Commonwealth Capital and President of the Restaurant Association of Singapore, said, “The impending legislation of the recently announced CoC is a watershed for tenants and landlords alike.

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“The early adoption by several key operators and enterprises, ahead of legislation, is the true test of enlightened thinking and support. The tenants’ group has conducted initial briefings to their constituent members and shall continue to roll out engagements in the months ahead so that all stakeholders may benefit from the new era of fair tenancy agreements to come.”

The CoC sets out fair and balanced guidelines for the negotiation of lease agreements in 11 areas, including rental structure, third-party fees, pre-termination by landlords or tenants and data sharing.

It also sets out a process for resolving disputes after lease agreements have been signed. 

In addition to ensuring compliance to the CoC, the newly formed FTIC will conduct regular outreach to industry players to keep them updated about industry developments, monitor the industry’s compliance to the CoC, and provide the government with feedback and recommendations to enhance the CoC.

The inaugural FTIC meeting was held on 19 May 2021. Ms Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, joined in at the start of the meeting to express her appreciation to the FTIC members for their dedication in coming together to achieve long-term benefits for the industry.

Ms Low also affirmed the Government’s commitment to make the CoC mandatory via legislation to ensure compliance.

Ms Low said, “This milestone pledge to adopt the Code of Conduct by landlords and tenants demonstrates their spirit of cooperation and joint determination to thrive above the current crisis. Both sides have worked hard to reach a common understanding and demonstrated mutual trust in forging a way ahead together.

“The Government is fully supportive of this commendable move. All government landlords will lead by example and adopt the Code from 1 June. Furthermore, we will consider the interests of all stakeholders as we take a holistic and balanced approach in drafting the legislation that will make the Code mandatory for all retail tenancies in Singapore.

“This Code for fair and balanced lease negotiations provides businesses greater stability and flexibility to weather disruptions, and the critical ability to work out possible solutions and navigate the crisis together. We can succeed in overcoming the odds by closing ranks to work as one Team Singapore, and emerge stronger together in today’s new normal.”

To provide landlords and tenants with a one-stop resource on the FTIC and CoC, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) has launched the FTIC website, allowing businesses to provide feedback on the CoC and all matters related to retail tenancies. Landlords and tenants will also be able to file for mutually agreed deviations that are permitted under the CoC.