24th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Hong Kong Housing Authority has unanimously passed new policies aimed at tightening regulations for well-off public housing tenants. The new measures include requiring tenants to declare every two years whether they own property in Hong Kong or overseas, as well as reducing the grace period for wealthy tenants to move out to just four months.
Scott Leung Man-kwong, a member of the Housing Committee, expressed his support for the new measures, stating that the general public widely agrees with the move to tighten regulations. He believes that these measures will help to make better use of the valuable public housing resources.
However, Leung also raised concerns about the potential pressure on Housing Authority frontline staff due to an influx of tenant declarations. The Housing Authority responded by pointing out that out of the approximately 800,000 public housing units, around 500,000 have already been declared, and the remaining 300,000 should not pose an insurmountable challenge. Leung has requested that the declaration form be simplified and digitized to help tenants and staff deal with the process.
In addition to concerns about the declaration process, Leung also suggested that the Housing Authority increase its sampling frequency for checking tenant assets and make use of technology to facilitate reporting by residents. He also recommended that the Housing Authority work closely with other government departments to investigate overseas assets, such as by using data from the Land Registry, and to collaborate with mainland Chinese agencies to identify assets held by public housing tenants in China.
The Hong Kong Housing Authority has also announced that it will implement enhanced measures to its Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement in Public Housing Estates. The measures will increase penalty points for nine misdeeds related to environmental hygiene, public safety, and serious breaches of tenancy agreements, and widen the scope of two misdeeds related to environmental hygiene and serious breaches of tenancy agreements. The measures are aimed at providing a safe and hygienic living environment for public rental housing (PRH) residents.
The penalty points for misdeeds such as littering, disposing of refuse indiscriminately, and allowing animals to foul public places with faeces will increase from five to seven, while misdeeds such as damaging or stealing HA’s property, or using leased premises for illegal purposes will increase from seven to 15. The scope of misdeeds related to the refusal to repair pipes or sanitary fittings and illegal hawking of cooked food will also be widened.
The enhanced measures will take effect in the fourth quarter of 2023, with the HA stepping up publicity and issuing a gentle reminder to PRH residents prior to implementation. The Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement is used to assess the performance of estate management in public housing estates and encourage tenants to comply with tenancy agreements. The HA is responsible for providing public rental housing to low-income families in Hong Kong and plays a crucial role in ensuring that public housing estates are well-managed and maintained to provide a decent living environment for PRH residents.