Windfall of $600m to follow rate ruling
May Sin-mi Hon
The Government is expected to recover about $600 million in rent owed by property developers after the Court of Final Appeal ruled on Tuesday that they had to pay for vacant land based on last year's rateable value.
Over the past two years, rent charged for vacant government land was frozen while the lawsuit by nine developers against the Government proceeded, Lo Hing-chung, Assistant Commissioner of Rating and Valuation, said yesterday.
The developers challenged a law that enabled the Commissioner of Rating and Valuation to demand rent for 59 development sites.
The developers were charged three per cent of the rateable value of the properties. Before the increase, they had not been charged rent nor paid a nominal amount.
Mr Lo said that after the annual review of rateable value, about 75 per cent of property owners would pay seven per cent less in rates.
Private housing estates whose rates dropped include Chi Fu Fa Yuen on southern Hong Kong Island, where rates will decrease by 10 per cent because transport is not convenient. Rates in Mei Foo Sun Chuen and estates in Tseung Kwan O will also fall because of the lack of facilities and large supply of properties.
However, for office premises in business districts, the average increase in rates will be about two per cent.
The review was based on the rateable value of the property as of October 1 last year, and not from the date when the property was rented, Mr Lo said.
He said the public would receive notification of the property rates they had to pay after the annual review of the rateable value this month.
Anyone with complaints can appeal to the department before the end of May.
They can also appeal to the Land Tribunal.