Landlords and tenants form Fair Tenancy Pro Tem Committee

Photo by Hai Nguyen

Key representatives from Singapore’s landlord and tenant communities, together with industry experts, came together at the end of June to form the Fair Tenancy Pro Tem Committee in a bid to strengthen collaboration and increase the vibrancy and competitiveness of Singapore’s retail, food & beverage (F&B) and lifestyle sectors.

This will contribute to Singapore’s attractiveness as a lifestyle destination for Singaporeans and tourists alike.

The Fair Tenancy Pro Tem Committee is set up under the auspices of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). Chaired by Mr Michael Lim, Chairman of Nomura Singapore, the committee will be guided by principles of fairness, reciprocity, and transparency.

The committee comprises representatives from both the landlord and tenant communities and members from Government and academia. The landlord community is represented by the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS) and REIT Association of Singapore (REITAS).

The tenant community is represented by members of the Fair Tenancy Framework Industry Committee (FTFIC), which was formed with representation from the Singapore Business Federation SME Committee (SBF SMEC), Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME), Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), and Singapore Tenants United for Fairness (SGTUFF).

The committee will focus on two areas: developing a tenancy framework to address current and longer-term issues in the industry, and establishing industry norms on tenancy practices and terms; and developing mechanisms to ensure compliance to the framework, as well as to allow for aggrieved parties to seek recourse and resolve disputes.

As the apex business chamber, SBF will facilitate discussions between the landlord and tenant communities to jointly develop the tenancy framework and the governance and compliance mechanism.

Mr Michael Lim, Chairman of the Fair Tenancy Pro Tem Committee said, “I am heartened that the tenants and landlords have come together in a constructive dialogue to resolve some of the long-standing issues on rental and tenancy. I am confident that the Committee will be able to come up with recommendations that will result in win-win solutions for everyone.”

Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF said, “It is timely and imperative that both parties work together to meet the challenges confronting the industry. The formation of this Committee is a first step towards bringing about change to the ecosystem. SBF is happy to support and facilitate this effort between landlords and tenants to resolutely tackle problems once and for all.

“This is an industry problem that can be better solved by various stakeholders involved. All parties can collaborate to engender the growth of the industry which is facing increasing competition regionally as well as from the online space,” he continued.

First Pro Tem Committee Meeting

Members welcomed the initiative to establish the Fair Tenancy Pro Tem Committee which met on Thursday, 25 June 2020. The meeting marked the first time that landlords, tenants and industry experts have convened to share the challenges that they faced, and discuss the key recommendations put forward by the FTFIC. The meeting allowed all parties to share some of their long-standing concerns and clarify each party’s perspective.

Members agreed that some FTFIC recommendations could be resolved in the near term while others would need further deliberations. The committee agreed to work towards developing a tenancy framework that is fair to both landlords and tenants. The committee recognises that such a framework has to be adopted widely by the industry, and will look into how best to ensure compliance, be it through self-regulation via an industry code of conduct, legislation, or a combination of both. As a next step, members agreed to form working groups to look into specific areas.

Mr Chia Ngiang Hong, President of REDAS and Mr Andrew Lim, President of REITAS said, “On behalf of our members, who make up a majority of the largest commercial landlords in Singapore, REDAS and REITAS strongly believe in the long-term symbiotic business partnership between landlords and tenants, and in cultivating an attractive and sustainable retail and lifestyle ecosystem.

“The Singapore retail scene is very challenging, with numerous disruptions. We believe that the Fair Tenancy Pro Tem Committee represents an important and timely opportunity for key stakeholders – including tenants and landlords – to collectively address these disruptions by looking for ways to improve existing landlord-tenant practices,” he continued.

FTFIC expressed hope that all parties would continue to “collectively find common ground, to rectify imbalances of the present day in a timely fashion, so that the retail and F&B sectors are also rewarded equitably for the risks we take and the value we create.”

Mr Png Cheong Boon, CEO of Enterprise Singapore and member of the Pro Tem Committee said, “Enterprise Singapore fully supports this important initiative by SBF to bring together the landlords and tenants to discuss and develop a tenancy framework that is fair for both parties.”