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Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

Lawmakers question deterrent effect of subdivided unit rent control bill

Lawmakers question deterrent effect of subdivided unit rent control bill

Lawmakers lambasted authorities for sluggish prosecution of landlords who violate the subdivided unit rent control bill – introduced last year – as only three of 1,500 lawbreakers have been convicted.
Vincent Cheng Wing-shun, who represents Kowloon West in the LegCo, said that the currently visiting Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Xia Baolong, originally tabled the idea to scrap subdivided units by 2049 entirely and that rental control was a vital part of that process.

Another lawmaker, Ma Fung-kwok, added that the bill has failed to deter landlords from breaking the law and urged authorities to increase the penalty amounts.

“A subdivided unit landlord forced tenants to pay an additional HK$400 in deposit and other charges in February, but that landlord was only fined HK$2,000 by the Eastern Magistrates' Courts, which was less than a month's rental. How can the authorities protect the benefits of tenants?” Ma chided.

The Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance came into effect on January 22, 2022, and the government has, as of the end of last month, found 1,500 violations, only three of which have been prosecuted and convicted.

Secretary for Housing Winnie Ho Wing-yin defended the government by saying it is stepping up enforcement, with a landlord recently being fined HK$18,600.

Commissioner of Rating and Valuation Kevin Siu Ka-yin also said warning letters had been sufficient for more than 780 cases and prosecution had not been needed.
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