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S'pore nightlife industry group supports fair-tenancy lobby committee

THE Singapore Nightlife Business Association (SNBA), which represents over 300 businesses, has thrown its weight behind a group lobbying for legislation to address what they perceive as an imbalance of power between landlords and tenants. 

Called the Fair Tenancy Framework Industry Committee (FTFIC), the lobby group was formed several weeks ago with representation from the Singapore Business Federation SME Committee, Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Restaurant Association of Singapore, Singapore Retail Association and Singapore Tenants United for Fairness.

The committee submitted 15 recommendations for fair tenancy legislation to the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Trade and Industry last week.

The recommendations are aimed broadly at rental data transparency, education and awareness, and setting up a dispute resolution channel.

In a statement on Thursday, SNBA president Joseph Ong said the recommendations are "timely and reasonable in this challenging period".

This comes as "tensions between landlords and tenants have been ongoing and especially heightened during the Covid-19 pandemic", and many landlords were "not swift" in passing on the government tax rebates which has led to closure risks for many businesses, Mr Ong added.

In a poll of its members, SNBA found that over 93 per cent were the most concerned about rents, as that is their largest operating expense. 

Also, 69.2 per cent of them responded that they do not foresee landlords providing further rental relief if their businesses have to remain closed after the "circuit-breaker" period.

The FTFIC has proposed the setting up of a Fair Tenancy Commission. SNBA said that if this commission is established and the recommendations are legislated, it foresees a "more balanced landlord-tenant relationship and a fairer and more efficient ecosystem for businesses to thrive in".

Meanwhile, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore is also looking into the private retail lease market, given the growing unhappiness among mall tenants towards their perceived unequal relationship with landlords and unfair clauses in tenancy agreements.

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