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VIRUS OUTBREAK

Some landlords offering virus relief packages to tenants

They are offsetting rents with security deposits, restructuring rental payments or giving rental rebates

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CapitaLand, Mapletree Commercial Trust (MCT), APM Property Management and Perennial Real Estate Holdings are rolling out measures to help cash-strapped retail tenants, with initiatives ranging from releasing one month's security deposit to offset rental payments to granting rental rebates.

SingaporeĀ 

CAPITALAND, Mapletree Commercial Trust (MCT), APM Property Management and Perennial Real Estate Holdings are rolling out measures to help cash-strapped retail tenants, with initiatives ranging from releasing one month's security deposit to offset rental payments to granting rental rebates.

To ease cash flows for all its mall tenants amid the virus outbreak, CapitaLand on Monday said it will release one month's worth of security deposits to offset their rental payments for the month of March 2020. This is on top of other potential rental relief measures it announced last week.

The real estate giant, which operates Singapore's largest mall network, had said it will offer support "in a targeted manner", which may include flexible rental payments and a one-time rental rebate of up to half-a-month for eligible tenants.

Food services and retail tenants operating more than 3,500 stores across CapitaLand malls in Singapore stand to benefit from the support package.

The support package is in addition to the 15 per cent property tax rebate granted by the government under Budget 2020 to qualifying commercial properties. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had urged landlords to pass this rebate on by reducing rents. CapitaLand has said it will pass the full savings on to its tenants.

For tenants that upskill their employees during the virus outbreak, CapitaLand also plans to offer training programmes under its Biz+ Series of tenant engagement events.

The proposed training opportunities will further prepare the tenants to future proof their skill set so they will be more ready for the eventual recovery after the outbreak, said Tony Tan, chief executive officer of CapitaLand Mall Trust's manager.

CapitaLand is prepared to do more should the situation worsen, said Jason Leow, president, Singapore & international at the group.

Meanwhile, in a filing to the Singapore Exchange on Monday night, MCT announced an S$11 million programme, largely consisting of rental rebates to retail partners at VivoCity.

Sharon Lim, chief executive of MCT's manager, said: "Depending on individual circumstances and needs, rental rebates of up to half a month may be granted on a selected basis. On top of that, we are expanding the scope to also cover retail partners who are located in MCT's other properties that do not qualify for the property tax rebates."

She added that its commitment under the programme is four times the amount of property tax rebates that MCT will receive from the government.

Aside from the S$11 million programme, MCT is introducing other initiatives such as free weekday parking at VivoCity during lunch and dinner hours, and allowing tenants the flexibility of shorter operating hours.

In response to queries from BT, property manager of Suntec City, APM Property Management, said that one month's worth of security deposit may be released upon tenants' request to offset rental payments, "should they opt to use it". In addition, tenants facing a liquidity crunch can also leverage an S$8 million SME Help Fund that was recently established by ARA Asset Management, Straits Trading Company and JL Family Office. APM is the property management arm of ARA Asset Management.

Anthony Yip, deputy chairman of APM Property Management, said: "We are currently working on additional rental relief measures to help these tenants navigate through this challenging period. These measures will be targeted and tailored to individual tenants' circumstances as their businesses are impacted differently by Covid-19."

A spokesperson for Perennial highlighted that they have implemented a series of support measures, including restructuring of rental payments or rental rebates to qualifying tenants, disbursed over a few months, as well as granting 30-day interest free rental payment for qualifying tenants.

In response to queries from BT on whether they would also roll out such measures, others such as Frasers Property Retail and Lendlease said that they intended to pass on the property tax rebate from the government to their tenants, and highlighted that they have already put in place other measures for retailers such as shortening store operating hours.

On Friday, CapitaLand met representatives from the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) and Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) at a dialogue session facilitated by Enterprise Singapore. CapitaLand provided RAS and SRA with details of its support package to help food and retail tenants tide over the outbreak.

Andrew Kwan, RAS vice-president, said: "The release of security deposits, coupled with the rental rebate for F&B (food and beverage) operators, is tangible relief at a time of great need."

SRA president R Dhinakaran said he hopes other landlords will follow suit, as many SRA members are facing cash flow problems.

Two weeks ago, CapitaLand said its mall tenants can opt to operate shorter hours. It also set up a S$10 million marketing assistance programme to boost sales for tenants.

Shares of CapitaLand fell S$0.03 to close at S$3.67 on Monday, while Frasers Property shed 3 cents to end the day's trading at S$1.62. Shares in Perennial closed one cent lower at 52 cents, and units in MCT were five cents lower at S$2.30.