Singapore offers legal protection to financially distressed property buyers

But they must speak to the developer first before proceeding with the application 

A group of high rise residential apartments. AndrewLam/Shutterstock

As part of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill that was instituted last month, property buyers who have signed a deal with developers can now request for legal assistance in case they have trouble settling payments because of the public health crisis, reported Channel News Asia.

The Act, which was implemented last 13 May, protects individuals from legal repercussions in terms of supply or construction contracts, non-residential leases, secured loan facilities, event agreements and tourism-related contracts like tour packages.

According to the Ministry of Law, it will support buyers who have either chosen to sign purchase agreements, sale and purchase agreements or agreements to lease residential properties.

It will also protect deals made between the buyers and the Housing and Development Board, but it won’t be able to cover deals made between individuals.

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The housing developer will allow the buyer to purchase agreement, which will be used to purchase residential property. They will also grant agreement for lease, or a sales and purchase agreement to sell residential and sale property.

“The Ministry of Law is including these two contracts in the list of contracts covered by the Act, to provide relief in such situations. Like other contracts covered by the Act, these contracts must have been entered into before 25 Mar 2020, with contractual performance due on or after 1 Feb 2020,” explained the ministry.

According to them, some buyers have expressed difficulty in settling payments because of the virus and are at risk of losing their deposits or booking fees.

However, they said that buyers should talk to the developer first to ask for extension. If the developer doesn’t want to negotiate or if both parties cannot settle on the terms of extension, the buyer can apply for the Notification for Relief (NFR) to benefit from legal assistance.

“Relief applies where a contracting party is unable to perform a contractual obligation due to COVID-19,” said the ministry.