SLA steps in to help resolve tenancy issues at Turf City

A dispute has arisen at the Turf City family mall between existing tenants and their landlord.

The issue has prompted the Singapore Land Authority – which leases the land – to step in.

From March, Turf City’s eclectic cluster of car dealerships and family-themed businesses will be replaced by a lifestyle hub.

It will be run under a new management, SH Cogent Logistics, which won the bid last October.

Priscilla Guan, the manager of retail shop Seul, said the transition has not been smooth.

“We have been waiting for Cogent Logistics, the new owner to come to us, but we didn’t get it till late December. So we were all at a loss because we did not know which direction we are going. And until now we are also not told where we will be located, what kind of rental,” she said.

Carin Tay-Huang, who runs the San-Sui Sumiyaki eatery and bar, said it’s a shame she has to give up her restaurant just when business is taking off.

She added: “The new landlord is asking five times the present rental we are having. We can’t actually sell our stuff at five times more, so we have no choice but to go.”

Some have complained about having to clear out by the end of the month, even though the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) only requires the land to be returned by 29 February.

The current master tenant, Singapore Agro Agriculture, disputes the claim that it is forcing the sub-tenants to leave.

It told Channel NewsAsia that when it extended its lease by another half a year, its contract clearly stated that tenants had to vacate the premises by 31 January, and that the company was under no legal obligation to extend the deadline by another month.

Singapore Agro Agriculture said it has also sent out reminders to the tenants in November, December and earlier this month about the impending deadline.

The company said it needed the time to reinstate the premises to its original state as required by law. And it will not budge from its deadline even though the SLA has offered to cut some slack to ensure a smooth transition.

SLA said it will not require the reinstatement of premises for businesses that will continue after March. It will even take over as interim landlord for these shops.

SLA will also relieve the current management from any further liability relating to structures or improvement works after the land has been returned.

But Singapore Agro Agriculture said it was informed of these options only on Tuesday afternoon, and declined comment on how it plans to respond.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 11 Jan 2012

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