Yet another impending closure of a local eatery at the end of this month has left a very bad taste in many mouths. Nasi Padang River Valley is yet another Singapore eatery that has fallen victim to the greedy-landlord-syndrome. Word is out that the money-infatuated landlords have increased the stall’s rent by 300%. Yes, a ridiculous and eye-watering three hundred percent. This brings about a relatively shocking and disgustingly crude illustration about living off others – quite literally.
So, without the financial means to meet that absurd figure, it will mean that over half a decade of food and memories looks set to be gone – all because of the landlord’s unhealthy desire and obsession of what can only be described as monetary glut.
Someone Needs To Step In
Echoing famed Singapore food campaigner KF Seetoh, I believe it’s about bloody time somebody steps in to quell this madness of unwarranted rent increases that verges on bullying and a just-because-I-can attitude exhibited by landlords. Though agreements and discussions between landlords and tenants are usually deemed private, something urgent needs to be done to curb such acts of blatant profiteering at the expense of people who are just out to earn a living. Additionally, it doesn’t take a marketing or finance graduate to see that the trend of increasing rent costs would open the floodgates to many more copycat landlords who will mete out similar demands to their tenants; often under the (groundless and copycat) guise of “increased costs of utilities and such-and-such”. As a whole, F&B businesses in Singapore (from hawker stalls, to coffeeshops, and even “hip” and “high-end” restaurants) are lamenting the increased (and continually increasing) cost of rent.
What Can Be Done
Lines need to be drawn to demarcate and distinguish areas of real estate pertaining to food and beverage (F&B) businesses, away from residential and commercial sites. “Market forces” and other related jargons should not affect the former’s territories. The authoritative body in charge of overseeing this should be helmed and run (a.k.a. taking full responsibility) by an entity – and people within the entity – with prior knowledge and understanding of the needs of F&B establishments, coupled with powers related to the well-being (as a whole) of the areas under their purview. For a start, urgent action must be taken to address and subsequently suppress the current state of uncapped rental hikes and spikes.
The establishment of such an association would be highly beneficial, reassuring, and encouraging to both current and potential individuals or small businesses to want to improve on and/or initiate their own F&B establishments. By knowing that one of many financial-related issues is taken care of, this would then allow them to concentrate better on their core offering of food, among other underlying factors. Additionally, it would solidify the country’s claim to fame of being a food haven as concrete and serious.
Alas, all this depends, on the current government and the respective authoritative bodies – a factor that KF Seetoh (and many other Singaporeans) can relate to; because “it always starts and ends with them”.Related reads: It’s Time To “Take a Break” High Rents Hit Small Businesses A Food-Loving Nation’s Dilemma – Another One Bites The Dust