Bill to help landlords reclaim rented flats

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 12:00am

The government will table a bill to the Legislative Council next month which would allow landlords to reclaim residential flats from tenants when leases expire.

Landlords currently cannot legally evict a tenant - even at the end of the lease period - as long as the tenant is willing to pay market rates. The only grounds to apply to the Lands Tribunal for their removal are redevelopment, self-occupation and non-payment of rent.

Under the revamp, tenants and landlords will also be able to negotiate the length of notice required before the quitting of business premises. Current laws on commercial premises require landlords to give at least six months' notice, while tenants must give at least one month's notice.

In a paper submitted to Legco yesterday, the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau said the majority of respondents in its consultation exercise supported a relaxation of security of tenure under the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) (Amendment) Bill 2003.

The bill will be gazetted today and tabled to the Legco on June 11. The bureau expected the bill to pass, coming into effect no later than June next year.

'This would be tantamount to providing a transitional period, so that both landlords and tenants are clear about the exact date on which the bill is to come into force,' it said.

The bureau proposes removing the notice requirements for business tenancies. 'With this requirement removed, landlords and tenants would be free to agree between themselves on the notice period for terminating non-domestic tenancies,' it said.

The interests of business tenants would not be adversely affected, the bureau said. Tenants have much greater bargaining power than before given the ample supply of rental units, it added.

The removal of security of tenure will also result in the deletion of 24 posts in the Rating and Valuation Department, with an annual staff cost saving of $12.4 million.