System for reviewing public rent under fire

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 June, 2012, 12:00am


Executive councillor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, who is widely tipped to be the next housing minister, said publicly for the first time that the mechanism determining public rent should be reviewed.

The Housing Authority member and scholar also said the recent resumption of the Home Ownership Scheme and an increase in the number of public rental flats should be the leading measures used to balance the lack of affordable homes in the private market.

Cheung's comments, at an authority meeting yesterday, came two weeks after a decision to give public housing tenants a one-month waiver to ease the pain of a 10 per cent rent rise, the maximum allowed. This is on top of the two-month waiver granted in the budget earlier this year.

The decision two weeks ago attracted criticism that the mechanism was 'unofficially dead'.

At that time, Cheung, the chairman of the authority's subsidised housing committee, disagreed, saying it would take time to change the mechanism.

But at yesterday's meeting, he said: 'The description [that the mechanism was not working any more] has oversimplified the fact, but it does reflect the problems we are facing when the mechanism is put into practice. Perhaps there's really a need to review the mechanism.'

The rent adjustment mechanism was set up in 2007, and the first review was done in 2010, when a 4.62 per cent rise was almost completely offset by a two-month waiver. The 10 per cent rise was the result of a second review under the mechanism.

Cheung also said yesterday that the government should start planning the supply of land early to increase the number of public rental flats. An increasing demand from single and young people for public rental housing should be studied as well, Cheung said.