Housing Authority’s licence plate checks to uncover affluent public housing residents, initiative for instant vehicle valuation welcomed

Paul Law

19th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) In a novel move to clamp down on affluent public housing tenants, Housing Authority is adopting a stringent approach by scrutinising the value of tenants’ vehicles. The Secretary for Housing, Winnie Ho, has affirmed in a media interview that the Housing Department will be vigilant of luxury cars owned by public housing tenants and will refer licence plates to the Transport Department for valuation, incorporating these assets into the tenants’ financial assessments to combat the prevalence of ‘wealthy households’ within the system.

Paul Law Siu-hung, President of the International Association of Professional Insurance Consultants, today endorsed the Housing Authority’s initiative. He noted that the Transport Department is in possession of detailed records of vehicle ownership, including purchase prices, which can be cross-referenced with insurance depreciation calculations to ensure declarations are accurate and comprehensive. Law described the tactic as “particularly shrewd”.

The Housing Department’s staff have identified a simple yet effective method to expose affluent tenants: monitoring luxury vehicles that are consistently parked in public housing estates. If suspicions arise, the Transport Department can be called upon for further investigation.

Law pointed out that the Transport Department has access to the addresses of the car owners, their vehicle’s acquisition cost, and the duration of ownership. Other factors such as insurance, mortgage loans, or valuations from notary offices can be utilised to calculate vehicle depreciation. Thus, the Housing Authority can verify whether public housing tenants have declared their vehicles and whether the declared values are precise.

Moreover, Law mentioned that even if public housing tenants attempt to transfer their vehicles’ ownership to evade detection, they risk losing their eligibility for public housing parking spaces. He hinted at the insider knowledge of the current Director of Housing, who has previously worked with the Transport Department, suggesting that this new strategy is well-informed and likely to be effective.