Tenants count the cost

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2005, 12:00am

Tenants' responses to rent increases for lease renewals this year were usually negative. This was especially the case among those who had paid low rents over the past two years.

Two years ago Alex, a senior manager at a dotcom company, and his wife moved into a 1,300 sqft three-bedroom apartment in the luxury Realty Gardens at 41 Conduit Road. The rent was $22,000 a month.

His landlord recently came to him seeking a lease renewal of $35,000 a month - a jump of 59 per cent from his existing lease - and told him it was not negotiable.

'This is robbery, it really is,' he said. 'I was really surprised the landlord was able to increase it so much.

'My wife is on a set package for her living subsidies in Hong Kong, and the package has not changed. The rents here are going up but companies are unwilling to increase the value of these packages. So, we just cannot afford the new rent.'

Alex and his wife have decided to freeze the rent at the existing level under the transitional termination notice, hoping to find something in their present budget next year.

For those who are tired of rent increases, becoming an owner may be a way out. Lo Ying-kit owns a publishing company in Tsuen Wan. He will move out of his 680 sqft unit in Park Island, Ma Wan, which he leased in May 2003, after his landlord said he intended to raise the rent by 50 per cent.

'Rent was $6,200 per month when I signed the contract. But the market rent in the estate has now risen to $9,000 per month,' said Mr Lo.

He recently bought a 752 sqft unit in Park Island for $3.18 million.

'Monthly repayment is around $12,000, which is just slightly higher than the market-rate rent. But I now own a bigger flat. For my old flat I was asked to pay a monthly rent of nearly $10,000, but the flat is just 680 sqft. This is really expensive. It is a bit ridiculous,' he said.

But not everyone thinks landlords are greedy and mean. Kate, a senior executive in the media industry, lives in a 700 sqft studio flat on Chancery Lane in Mid-Levels.

Her landlord wanted to raise her monthly rent by 25 per cent but she managed to negotiate it down to 12 per cent and closed the deal.

'It is fair enough,' she said.

'The old lease was signed two years ago after the Sars outbreak and it was slightly lower than the market level.'