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Saturday, Mar 02, 2024

Home Ownership Scheme to bar property-owning Hong Kong public housing tenants

Home Ownership Scheme to bar property-owning Hong Kong public housing tenants

Housing Authority’s Cleresa Wong said after meeting of subsidised housing committee that officials were united over need for change.

Hong Kong’s Housing Authority has banned public housing tenants who already own a property from buying a subsidised flat after it revised the eligibility rules for its Home Ownership Scheme.

The change came on Wednesday after the former father-in-law of murdered model Abby Choi Tin-fung was found to own a luxury flat and a subsidised one which sparked calls for a revamp of the regulations.

Cleresa Wong Pie-yue, chairwoman of the authority’s subsidised housing committee, said members were united over the need for change.

The revised eligibility criteria will make both types of prospective buyers – public flat tenants, referred to as green form applicants, and those from the private sector, usually called white form applicants – subject to the same restriction.

“All members of the committee unanimously passed the proposal to tighten the eligibility criteria, to ban green form applicants who own property from buying subsidised flats, which aligns with the restrictions on white form applicants,” Wong said.

Potential buyers under the Home Ownership Scheme, from this year, will not be eligible for the programme if they have owned a domestic property in the city inside two years of their application.

In addition, households in public rented accommodation who were asked to move out of their flat by the authority will no longer be eligible to buy those properties as green form applicants.

The authority explained these people were largely “well-off tenants” whose income or assets were found to exceed a certain threshold, but that they could extend their stay for a maximum of a year.

Wong said only 80 households had fixed term licences at present and added the new rule would not affect a lot of people.

A Housing Authority construction project.

The revised eligibility criteria will be implemented when the 2023 Home Ownership Scheme starts in the middle of the year.

The authority also revealed details of this year’s scheme, with 9,154 flats across six sites put on sale at a discount of 38 per cent on the market price, which is lower than that of 2022.

Wong attributed the lower discount rate to the drop in the prices of private residential properties in general and the rise in the median monthly income of households who are not property owners, adding that it could meet the “affordability benchmark”.

This year’s subsidised home programme, which will involve 9,154 flats, will feature the largest number of properties since 1998.

The project in Yuen Long accounted for most of the supply with 3,080 flats and has the cheapest price range of between HK$1.49 million (US$191,000) and HK$3.18 million.

Three estates in Kwun Tong will also contribute a third of the homes. Kai Yuet Court at Kai Tak, which will supply 2,046 homes, has the most expensive price range, from HK$2.23 million to HK$4.94 million.

The income limit was set at HK$62, 000 a month and the asset ceiling was put at HK$1.47 million for family applicants.

The threshold for single applicants will be half the level set for families.


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