Property developers given 6 more months of relief for projects disrupted by Covid-19

There will be more temporary relief measures for property developers whose construction schedules have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The Government said on Thursday (Oct 8) that developers have six more months to complete residential, commercial and industrial development projects, for instance, and the added measures will take effect immediately.

A first round of measures was announced in May, which included a six-month time extension for property developers to complete their projects.

WHY THE NEED FOR MORE SUPPORT

In a joint press release by the Ministry of National Development, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Trade and Industry, they said that although almost all construction projects have restarted since the circuit breaker that halted non-essential activities was lifted on June 2, full resumption of work remains a challenge.

This is because workers are still being placed under quarantine if they come into contact with a Covid-19 patient, and worksite practices need to be redesigned to incorporate safe distancing.

“These public health measures are necessary to prevent the industry from going into lockdown again, but they continue to affect construction timelines,” the ministries said.

The authorities also noted concerns by contractors and developers about extra costs and financial penalties that they may incur due to delayed projects affected by the pandemic.

The ministries said that they expect developers to provide relief and support to their main contractors with these added relief measures.

The Government will also roll out more relief measures to stakeholders in the property sector to ensure that no one “bears an undue share of the burden imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic”, the ministries added.

WHAT THE NEW RELIEF MEASURES ARE

1. Private residential development projects

The completion period for qualifying residential development projects on government sale sites, or on land that was directly alienated or had their lease renewed by the Singapore Land Authority, will be extended by six more months, in addition to the original six-month extension granted in May.

2. Stamp duty

There is another six-month extension for the start and completion of qualifying residential development projects in relation to the remission of the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) for housing developers.

Developers are to start and complete a residential project and then sell all the housing units built within specified timelines or be subject to the ABSD on the purchase of the land.

Sites acquired before July 6, 2018 for the development of five or more units are subject to 15 per cent ABSD, while sites acquired after that date are subject to 30 per cent, of which 25 per cent may be remitted subject to conditions.

Read also: Legal relief extended to those buying properties from developers during Covid-19 outbreak

However, there is no further extension of the specified timeline to sell all housing units for a residential project.

3. Qualifying Certificate

There is an extension of the project completion period by up to six more months for residential development projects under the Qualifying Certificate scheme for foreign developers.

Developers have to complete the construction of all housing units in a residential development project within five years from the date of the Qualifying Certificate or the collective sale order.

They must also sell all housing units within two years from the issue of the Temporary Occupation Permit or Certificate of Statutory Completion.

All time extensions above are in addition to the six-month extensions that were granted in the first round in May.

Eligible developers applying to extend their existing completion deadline will be granted a further waiver of extension charges for up to a total of six months, similar to the extension granted in May.

They may write to SLA’s Land Dealings Approval Unit at [email protected] by Dec 1 to apply.

Developers who already applied for and obtained an extension of their existing completion deadlines for the first round in May will automatically be granted another six-month waiver of extension charges, and will be notified of their new deadlines by SLA.

Source: Today – 9 Oct 2020

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