(Singapore, April 2, 2020) The Singaporean government will introduce new legislation next week to place an obligation on landlords pass on property tax rebates in full to their tenants, the Ministry of Finance announced today.

“Property owners who fail to fully pass on the property tax rebate attributable to the rented property unconditionally to the tenant concerned, without reasonable excuse, will be guilty of an offense,” MOF says.

In the FY2020 Budget and the FY2020 Supplementary Budget announced on 18 February and 26 March 2020 respectively, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat announced a property tax rebate of up to 100% for non-residential properties, for the tax payable in 2020.

The rebate is intended to help businesses deal with the impact from COVID-19. For most properties, the 100% property tax rebate works out to more than one month of rent. The rebate is granted to the owner of the property, who is liable for the property tax, in respect to each property tax account.

In his Statements, the Deputy Prime Minister strongly urged property owners to pass on the property tax rebate to their tenants by reducing rentals.

MOF says that the government is appreciative of those property owners who are fully passing on the rebate to their tenants. In some instances, property owners have gone further, to reduce rentals by an amount that is greater than their quantum of the rebate. In so doing, they have taken a step further to help their tenants and share the burden during this time of uncertainty.

However, the Government has also received feedback that other property owners have not yet passed on the rebate to their tenants. The proposed provisions ensure that property owners who have not passed on the rebate will do so.

Subject to Parliament’s approval, the proposed provisions and subsequent subsidiary legislation will impose an obligation on property owners to pass on to their tenants the full amount of property tax rebate received for each property tax account that is attributable to the tenanted property.

Owners receive property tax rebate for each of their qualifying property tax accounts, just as they pay property tax for each account. For instance, under the proposed provisions, if a property tax account is for premises wholly rented out to a tenant, the owner is required to pass the rebate received, if any, to the tenant fully.

The legislation ensures that the rebate is passed on in a timely manner according to the prescribed timeline. It also prohibits property owners from imposing conditions when passing on the property tax rebate.