Tenants in Hong Kong’s sub-divided flats face exorbitant rent and utility bills amid Covid-19 – gov’t task force

©Hong Kong Free Press

Landlords for Hong Kong’s sub-divided residential units are overcharging tenants for water and electricity, who have little contractual protections during the Covid-19 pandemic according to a government task force.

The Task Force for the Study on Tenancy Control of Subdivided Units – led by Sun Hung Kai CEO William Leung – was set up in April for a term of 18 months and is expected to deliver a report about regulating rent in the first half of next year.

Housing secretary Frank Chan visiting a family living in subdivided flat. Photo: Apple Daily.

After meeting over 30 sub-divided flat concern groups over video conference and making field visits in nine districts, the task force told the press on Wednesday that some landlords overcharged tenants for utility bills and that the living conditions were not ideal. Some units had bed bugs and rats.

Leung said that rent prices did not drop during the coronavirus outbreak, adding that most tenants did not sign formal contracts with their landlords.

“We have just had the first round of meetings with the concern groups, they basically have told us first-hand information about the sub-divided unit situation. They mainly [focused] on the living conditions, the inequality between the landlord and the tenants. They mentioned examples about the sub-divided unit rental being exorbitant.”

William Leung. RTHK screenshot.

He said the task force will conduct public forums in the future to gather views from the public.