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Restaurant body disappointed in landlords' lack of rental rebates

LANDLORDS have yet to deliver on their publicly announced rental rebates for food and beverage (F&B) operators, said the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) on Sunday night, adding that it was "deeply disappointed". 

Only Jewel Changi, Changi Airport Group, JTC and NParks have sent written notices on rental rebates to their tenants. All other landlords and mall owners have been "slow to react" to the appeals of their F&B tenants, RAS said in its statement. 

“We are deeply disappointed in the landlords’ lack of follow-through in spite of public announcements of support for the industry during this crisis," said RAS executive director, Edwin Fong.

"Many of the F&B outlets, especially those run by smaller operators, have an urgent need for assistance to alleviate their cash flow situation and mitigate the uncertainties they face in the current climate brought on by Covid-19."

The association singled out CapitaLand, Singapore's largest mall operator, which has apparently not delivered on a promise of 50 per cent rental rebates for restaurant tenants. 

RAS said it checked with F&B operators which represent some 500 outlets and found that restaurateurs operating in CapitaLand’s suburban malls, which form the bulk of its portfolio, have not been granted rental rebates at all. 

Those operating in CapitaLand’s urban malls have only been offered 10 per cent rebates. Only one operator at CapitaLand's Clarke Quay property was given a 15 per cent rental rebate.

The feedback was similar among the association's executive and management committee members. 

In response, CapitaLand said it's "unfortunate that the entire relief package has not been fully comprehended by RAS", despite ongoing engagements between the two. 

CapitaLand is in the process of reviewing its portfolio of 3,500 leases and expects to finish this by the end of March. By which time, tenants will be informed of their respective rental relief packages, Jason Leow, the group's Singapore and international president, told The Business Times

For now, the landlord said it has granted rental rebates of 20 per cent to 30 per cent over two months to eligible tenants in its downtown malls, which have been more affected by the virus outbreak. 

It has also informed tenants that rents for March will be offset against a month of their security deposits. 

Last month, CapitaLand had announced plans to provide rental relief - including flexible rental payments and a one-time rental rebate of up to half-a-month - to tenants in a "targeted manner". Other mall operators, like Mapletree Commercial Trust and Perennial Real Estate Holdings, also announced plans of similar fashion. 

This came as government leaders repeated calls for landlords to pass on savings from a 15 per cent property tax rebate granted by the government under Budget 2020 to qualifying commercial properties to tenants.