TSMP Law Corporation Head of Corporate Real Estate Jennifer Chia was asked to comment in a Business Times story published on 23 April 2020 on coworking operators facing pressure to provide their members with rental relief.
She said that members in non-essential services may be able to refuse to pay fees to coworking firms because of the circuit breaker measures if the said measures amount to a “legal frustration of contract”, meaning the contract is impossible to perform. But the law “has no pat answers” amid this pandemic, she added.
The relationship between coworking operators and end-users is not a typical landlord and tenant one. Rather, the end-users are usually considered members because coworking firms offer a suite of services, somewhat similar to gym memberships, she explained.
“It would be a more nuanced question in the case of members in non-essential services as the operators would arguably not be able to make the space available to its members who are by law required to work from home,” she said.