Whether you’re a tenant or owner-occupier, here’s how the scheme can offer some financial assistance.
There is no denying that for many of us, the COVID-19 outbreak has been a huge disruption to our habits and lifestyle. Not to mention, it has greatly impacted businesses’ livelihoods.
The government has put in place several measures to help business owners manage the economic consequences of COVID-19. One such measure is providing rental assistance for eligible businesses facing hardship as a result of the pandemic’s impact on their operations and revenue streams.
What is the Rental Support Scheme?
The Rental Support Scheme (RSS) is a government initiative that provides financial assistance to eligible entrepreneurs who are struggling to pay their rent due to COVID-19’s effects on their businesses during the Phase Two (Heightened Alert) ‘P2(HA)’ and Stabilisation Phase.
The scheme was first announced in May 2021 in response to the first round of P2(HA) restrictions (16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021). So far, it has been extended twice.
- First extension: The government extended the scheme in a second announcement in July 2021, to deal with the second round of P2(HA) restrictions (22 July 2021 to 18 August 2021).
- Second extension: The scheme was extended again to address the Stabilisation Phase (27 October 2021 to 21 November 2021).
Eligibility for the RSS
The RSS is meant to provide support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and eligible Non-Profit Organisations (NPO).
To be eligible, all of the following criteria must apply:
- SME or NPO with annual revenue of less than S$100 million in FY2019.
- You must either be a qualifying commercial property’s tenant or owner-occupier, or operate a qualifying commercial use.
Examples of qualifying commercial uses include hotel rooms or function rooms of hotels, premises of tourist attractions, shops, restaurants and cinemas.
Your lease or licence must also have been entered into before a specified date, and been in force during a specified period of time, as reflected in the table below:
|First RSS payout||Second RSS payout||Third RSS payout|
|Qualifying period||Stamped lease or licence|
entered into before 14 May 2021in force anytime during 14 May 2021 to 29 May 2021
|Stamped lease or licence entered into before 20 July 2021in force anytime during 22 July 2021 to 18 August 2021||Those who received the second RSS payout would qualify automatically.|
Otherwise, stamped lease or licence entered into before 24 Sep 2021 in force anytime during 27 Sep 2021 to 21 Nov 2021
|Stamping deadline||Before 28 May 2021||Before 3 August 2021||Before 8 Oct 2021|
Eligibility criteria for NPOs
Qualifying non-profit organisations include the following:
- Registered or exempt charities
- Members of the National Council of Social Service
- National sports associations
- National disability sports associations
- Specified arts and culture societies
- Specified trade associations
RSS payout amounts
For the first and second tranches, 0.5 month of gross rent (for tenants) or 0.5 month of the property’s Annual Value (for owner-occupiers) was disbursed. For the third tranche, one month of gross rent or one month of the property’s Annual Value was given out.
How to apply for RSS
Most eligible tenants and commercial property owners would receive their payouts automatically, and be notified by mail. However, those who would not automatically receive the funds and need to apply, would include tenants who only rent part of a property or rent a mixed-use property, or licensees.
All those who received the second payout would also automatically qualify for the third payout. Those who did not qualify for the second but would for the third would need to apply separately to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
The application deadlines were 15 October 2021, 12 November 2021 and 21 January 2022 for the first, second and third payouts respectively.
The rebates have also been disbursed from 6 August 2021, 22 September 2021 and end-November 2021 for each of the three tranches.
For eligible tenants and owner-occupiers with PayNow or who have GIRO arrangements with IRAS, payouts would be sent directly to their accounts. If not, the payouts would be delivered by cheques sent to their registered addresses.
Unlike the prior rounds of rental relief distributed through the landlords, the RSS provides money directly to tenants. This alleviates any concerns about rogue landlords withholding rent assistance.
This also shortens the time taken for tenants to receive assistance.
Rental Waiver Framework
The RSS is meant to be complemented by other schemes that have been providing assistance for tenants through co-payment by government and landlords. The Rental Relief Framework was the first such initiative in April to May 2020, or April to July 2020.
Afterwards, the Rental Waiver Framework was introduced on 5 October 2021. Under the scheme, landlords are required to provide two weeks of rental waiver to eligible tenants.
Tenants who meet the following criteria are eligible for the waiver:
- Suffered a 20% revenue decline during both P2HA periods
- Occupy a qualifying commercial property
- Annual revenue must not exceed S$100 million. If a member of a Singapore group of entities, the group annual revenue is not to exceed S$100 million.
- The lease agreement and the licence must have been:
- Entered into or renewed before 20 July 2021
- In force from 5 August to 18 August 2021
- Where applicable, the licence and lease document needs to have been stamped on or before 2 August 2021
SMEs and NPOs that received the second payout under the RSS would also receive the Notice of Rental Waiver from the Ministry of Law. If they meet the eligibility criteria, they can claim the two weeks of rental waiver from their landlords. More information on the claim process can be found at the Ministry of Law’s website.
In conclusion, the RSS provides — through giving cash directly to tenants and owner-occupiers — a huge helping hand for those who have experienced a decline in revenue. Through this and the co-payment schemes, businesses should hopefully be able to find some financial relief during these trying times.
In need of extra cash to tide over through the tough economic times? Check out our comprehensive comparison of personal loans available in the market.
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