Singapore warns landlords not to ‘irresponsibly’ evict tenants due to coronavirus

Singapore says landlords who evict tenants because of the coronavirus outbreak could be barred from renting to foreign work pass holders in the future. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Singapore is clamping down on landlords who evict tenants who have been quarantined at home or are on a leave of absence (LOA) in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Singapore’s The Straits Times today reported that landlords who evict tenants for such reasons, or based on their renters’ nationality, could be prevented from renting to foreign work pass holders in the future.

Singapore has 18 cases of coronavirus infections, two of whom are Singaporeans and the rest Chinese nationals who travelled from Wuhan, China – the epicentre of the outbreak.

The paper previously reported cases of landlords closing their doors on tenants returning from China – leaving workers, their employers and agents scrambling to find alternative accommodation.

“Landlords found to have irresponsibly evicted their residents may face restrictions and even be barred from renting out their flats to foreign work pass holders in future,” it quoted a joint press statement by Singapore’s national development, education, and manpower ministries as saying yesterday.

“Guidelines are available for landlords to adopt should they have a tenant who is on home quarantine orders or LOA. There is no need for landlords to evict persons who are serving their home quarantine orders or LOA.”

On Saturday, Singapore implemented travel restrictions on those with a recent travel history to China, including a 14-day LOA for returning Singapore residents and long-term-pass holders.

The ministries pointed out that those placed on home quarantine orders or LOA were “simply precautionary measures to protect Singaporeans” from the spread of the virus.

The statement added that those who showed coronavirus symptoms would be assessed at hospitals and isolated if they were suspected to be positive.

On Sunday, Manpower Minister Josephone Teo warned landlords, dormitory operators and co-tenants not to evict these people as “by and large, they are not unwell”.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam also weighed in on the matter, saying that tenants who were on home quarantine or LOA ensured that the rest of Singapore “can be safe”.

“So, if they are tossed out onto the streets, where are they going to go?” he asked.