Some landlords closing doors on tenants returning from China, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Some landlords closing doors on tenants returning from China

This article is more than 12 months old

Employment agents, employers starting to see cases of landlords reacting out of coronavirus infection fears

Computer salesman Thomas Chua, 67, has a tenant from China who is due to return to Singapore this week.

But Mr Chua has told his tenant, a factory supervisor who has been renting a room from him for more than seven years, that he is not allowed to step into his Housing Board flat in Sembawang when he returns.

He is also asking his tenant if he can delay his return to Singapore.

Though his tenant has told him that he did not travel to Hubei province, where its capital Wuhan is at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, he believes there is still a risk of transmission.

"I read in the news that workers who are coming back from China will not be allowed to go back to work for 14 days in case there is a risk of them getting the coronavirus. If I let him stay in my house, what if he is infected and I get the virus?" said Mr Chua.

Employment agents and employers are starting to see cases of landlords like Mr Chua who are closing the door on tenants returning from China.

An owner of a food factory, who declined to be named, said that his employee, an assistant production supervisor from Sichuan province, had nowhere to go after she arrived in Singapore around midnight on Sunday.

"Her landlord told her that he will take her back only if she shows no symptoms after the 14-day leave of absence period is up.

"Though we managed to book a hotel for her, they rejected her when she arrived. She ended up hanging around at 24-hour locations outside the whole night. It is a very bad situation," said the factory owner.

Yesterday, he managed to contact a relative, who agreed to put his worker up temporarily in a spare house that she had been intending to rent out.

Employment agents like Mr Vincent Tan, a partner at Trust Vision Employment Agency, expect to see more of such cases.

An employment agent who declined to be named said about a third of her clients, mainly firms in the semiconductor industry, have workers who have been turned away by landlords.

She now knows of at least 10 workers who have been told they cannot return to their rented rooms in HDB flats.

"We are working with their employers, who are paying housing agents to help them find landlords who can take them in," she said.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong added in Parliament yesterday that the authorities are also looking at how to help landlords, employers and households impacted by leave of absence arrangements.

Lawyer Wilbur Lua of Covenant Chambers said that tenancy agreements do not usually give landlords a general right to evict their tenants at their discretion.