Some retail, all govt landlords accept leasing code of conduct

Guidelines aim to make lease negotiations between landlords and retail tenants fairer

The code of conduct sets out fair guidelines for lease negotiations in 11 areas, including rental structure, pre-termination by landlords or tenants, and data sharing.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

At least eight major retail landlords from the private sector and all government landlords have committed to abiding by a new code of conduct on the leasing of retail premises in Singapore.

The code aims to make lease negotiations between landlords and retail tenants fairer and balanced.

With effect from yesterday, CapitaLand, City Developments, Frasers Property Retail, Mercatus Co-operative, UOL Group and SPH Reit, as well as all government landlords such as JTC Corporation and the Housing Board, will abide by the code of conduct, which sets out fair guidelines for lease negotiations in 11 areas.

These include rental structure, pre-termination by landlords or tenants, and data sharing.

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

GuocoLand will adopt the code of conduct for all new leases signed after yesterday, Ms Valerie Wong, its general manager (Asset Management), said yesterday.

Hong Leong Holdings said the group has been “working closely with its tenants to ensure the livelihoods and well-being of its retail and food and beverage tenants since the pandemic began.

“Hong Leong remains committed to enabling fair and balanced lease negotiations,” it said.

Business leaders representing the major retail landlords and tenants in Singapore have been appointed as members of the Fair Tenancy Industry Committee (FTIC), which will act as custodian of the code of conduct.

Mr Max Loh, managing partner of Ernst & Young Singapore and Brunei, has been appointed chairman of the 13-member committee. He said he is “honoured to play a role in charting the future of retail leasing practices in Singapore”.

At the inaugural FTIC meeting on May 19, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling said: “All government landlords will lead by example and adopt the code from June 1.”

Ms Low added: “This code for fair and balanced lease negotiations provides businesses with greater stability and flexibility to weather disruptions, and the critical ability to work out possible solutions and navigate the crisis together.”

Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chief executive Lam Yi Young said that the “SBF and FTIC will continue to reach out to the landlords to bring more on board the code.” He noted that some current lease agreements are already compliant with the code.

“As the Government has accepted the recommendation to make the code mandatory via legislation, we urge all landlords to start making adjustments to their leasing practices to align with the code as soon as possible,” Mr Lam said.

Mr Low Chee Wah, CEO of Frasers Property Retail, said: “From June 1, we will be adopting the code of conduct-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 the code of conduct by all stakeholders will be instrumental in forging a stronger landlord-tenant relationship.”

Mr Andrew Kwan, president of the Restaurant Association of Singapore and group managing director of Commonwealth Capital, said: “The impending legislation of the code of conduct is a watershed for tenants and landlords alike. The early adoption by several key operators and enterprises, ahead of legislation, is the true test of enlightened thinking and support.”

The committee will conduct regular outreach to industry players to keep them updated on industry developments, monitor the industry’s compliance with the code of conduct, and provide the Government with feedback and recommendations to enhance it.

Yesterday, SBF launched the FTIC website, which will allow businesses to provide feedback on the code of conduct and matters related to retail tenancies.

“Source: [Some retail, all govt landlords accept leasing code of conduct] © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction”

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