SPH Reit to extend relief scheme for tenants affected by Covid-19, posts 23% rise in net property income for Q2

SINGAPORE – SPH Reit (real estate investment trust) will be extending its relief scheme for tenants affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, in a move that will effectively see most affected tenants’ base rents waived for up to two months.

This comes as the trust reported an increase in net property income for the second quarter of this year.

SPH Reit, which is managed by a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), announced on Wednesday (April 1) that it saw net property income jump to $56.5 million, up 23.3 per cent, or $10.6 million, over the same period last year.

This was mainly due to the contribution from the acquisition of Westfield Marion Shopping Centre in South Australia, which was completed in December and contributed $8.4 million to the increase.

Malls here also registered positive rental reversions, with Paragon and The Clementi Mall recording an increase of $1.3 million and $0.2 million respectively.

SPH Reit’s portfolio achieved an occupancy rate of 98.9 per cent as of end February, with the Singapore assets registering an occupancy rate of 99.5 per cent.

Distribution per unit for the second quarter was 0.30 cents, a decline of 78.7 per cent compared with last year. This figure is modest in light of the challenges brought on by the coronavirus in the months ahead, SPH Reit said.

The trust had previously said it will pass on fully the property tax rebates announced by the Government in March to tenants. It has also provided additional help, granting tenant rebates amounting to about $4.6 million to those affected in February and March, as part of the Tenants’ Assistance Scheme to help tenants with rental relief.

The scheme will now be extended to April and May. Tenants most affected by the measures to curb the outbreak of the virus will be granted rental rebates of up to 50 per cent of base rent, on top of the full property tax rebates being passed on to them.

Tenants which are required by the Government to stop operations, such as enrichment centres, will get full waiver of rental for the period of closure.

SPH Reit has five assets here and in Australia.

SPH Reit chairman Leong Horn Kee said: “Given the continued challenges our tenants are facing with the tightened social distancing measures and enforced closures, SPH Reit will monitor the effects of Covid-19 closely and work with the tenants to overcome this difficult period.”

SPH, which also has purpose-built student accommodation in Britain, is also offering students the option to leave their tenancies early in the current academic year.

Students who choose to return home will not have to pay rent, while refunds will be made to students who have already paid up to the end of the term, SPH said.

All 25 of the group’s assets under the Student Castle and Capitol Students brands across 15 UK cities continue to operate, and the majority of students are choosing to remain.

But there will be an expected loss of revenue of £4 million (S$7 million) to £8 million till the end of the financial year, given the current level of occupancy, SPH added.

Mr Ng Yat Chung, SPH chief executive, said: “Our priority is the safety and well-being of our students and employees, ensuring that they are provided with a safe environment as we deal with the pandemic together. As a leading player in the purpose-built student accommodation sector, we will continue to forge partnerships with the community, universities and other agencies, helping students navigate through these challenging times.”

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