On 16 February 2023, the Singapore High Court ruled that businesses which have received COVID-19 relief grants cannot also claim rental waiver from landlords.

The case originated from a dispute between the owner of some premises (the plaintiff) and the business the premises were leased to (the defendant). The plaintiff claimed payment of rental arrears, but the defendant argued that it was entitled to two months of rent waiver pursuant to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act. However, the defendant had already received rental relief money from the government in order to tackle the consequences of the pandemic. Such money was given pursuant to a provision in the Act stating that a grant could be disbursed to the “owner” of a property. For the purposes of the Act, the defendant was deemed to be the owner of the premises and therefore received the grant. However, during the dispute was raised the issue whether or not the defendant could be considered as the owner with regard to the cash grants and as a tenant with regard to the provisions of the Act regarding rental waiver.

The court noted that, if such interpretation was allowed, the defendant would have effectively been granted a double subsidy for the same property. The judge, furthermore, pointed out that any entity may receive only one form of relief.

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