Landlords already have too much power

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 12:00am

I am horrified by press reports regarding proposals to give landlords more power over their tenants.

As a long-time Hong Kong tenant of commercial and residential property, I have been subjected, on many occasions, to a 'take-it-or-leave-it' attitude which, as a landlord in a sophisticated country, I would never be allowed to get away with under any circumstances.

The concept of 'quiet enjoyment' (that is, the right to live in your apartment without interference) does not appear to have taken root with many Hong Kong landlords, who treat their tenants as a marketable commodity to be taken advantage of at the first opportunity.

Tenancy agreements which are presented by landlords are of such a draconian nature, after repeated refinement by solicitors over the years, as to remove any chance of fair and equitable treatment for tenants. There are some good landlords. However, finding one is a long search process.

That such an idea could be floated at all, and at a time when our second-string leadership is also advocating inflating the property market again, can only reflect the absolute power of our principal landlords, an appalling short-term memory, given the iniquitous treatment of tenants up to 1997 (which still continues in some properties), and the ideological bankruptcy of the current administration.