Public housing tenants convicted by court for making false statements and served suspended sentences

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Kwai Chung Estate,

30th June 2022 – (Hong Kong) A spokesman for the Housing Department (HD) today reminded all residents of public rental housing (PRH) to truthfully declare their income and assets. Offenders in two cases who made false statements knowingly and neglected to furnish particulars in requisition as specified in a declaration form respectively were ordered by the courts today to serve suspended sentences.

In the first case, a PRH resident living at Kwai Chung Estate, when applying for change of tenant and grant of a new tenancy in May 2018, declared that he did not have any landed property. A subsequent investigation revealed that the resident owned a domestic property at Yau San Street, Yuen Long, and as such would not be eligible for a grant of a new tenancy. The resident was prosecuted by the HD for making a false statement knowingly in respect of his application for grant of a new PRH tenancy, contrary to Section 26(1)(c) of the Housing Ordinance, and he was convicted at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts today. Having considered that the gravity of the offence would not be adequately reflected by just a fine, the defendant was sentenced by the presiding magistrate to seven days’ imprisonment (suspended for 12 months) and fined $5,000. 

The second case involved another PRH resident living at Kwai Chung Estate who was required to pay 1.5 times rent with effect from 1st April, 2021. When applying for paying normal rent due to a decrease in household income in April 2021, the resident declared that he did not have domestic property in Hong Kong, and that the total household net asset value did not exceed 100 times the prevailing PRH income limit, i.e. $2,450,000. A subsequent investigation revealed that he owned 50 per cent of a domestic property at Tseng Tau, Sai Kung, with a relative net asset value of $2,500,000, which would exceed the asset limit. He was prosecuted by the HD for two offences of neglecting to furnish particulars specified in a requisition served on him, contrary to Section 27(a) of the Housing Ordinance. The defendant was convicted of the two offences at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts today. The presiding magistrate also considered that the gravity of the offence would not be adequately reflected by just a fine. The defendant was sentenced of 14 days’ imprisonment (suspended for 12 months) and fined $8,000 in total.     

The spokesman of the HD reminded all PRH applicants that if they are convicted by the court for making a false statement knowingly during the application for a lease for PRH, contrary to Section 26(1)(c) of the Housing Ordinance, the maximum penalty is a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months, while the PRH application will also be cancelled, and any allocated PRH unit will be recovered by the HD.

In addition, the spokesman said that households living in PRH should complete their income and asset declaration forms accurately, as doing so provides the foundation for the assessment of rent and their eligibilities for continuing residence. Before furnishing particulars specified in the requisition required by the Hong Kong Housing Authority, households should read the content and completion guidelines of the income and asset declaration form carefully and compute their income and assets in accordance with the methods specified. Otherwise, they may be prosecuted for making a false statement knowingly, contrary to Section 26(1)(a) of the Housing Ordinance (if convicted, the maximum penalty is a $50,000 fine and imprisonment for six months), or being prosecuted for neglecting to furnish information as specified in a declaration form, contrary to Section 27(a) of the Housing Ordinance (if convicted, the maximum penalty is a $25,000 fine and imprisonment for three months). The HD will take action to recover the undercharged rent incurred due to the inaccurate information or even recover their PRH units.

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