Suen advocates new housing rent scheme

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 May, 2006, 12:00am

Updated at 7.06pm:
A new housing rent adjustment system should be introduced to allow rents to go up and down according to actual circumstances, Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung said on Thursday.

He was briefing the Legislative Council's housing panel on the progress of the Review of Domestic Rent Policy. A consultation on the issue began on March 9 and would end on June 9.

The review proposes a new rent adjustment system which may take into account consumer index and income movements in deciding whether to increase or reduce rents.

Mr Suen said that under the existing legislation, the Housing Authority could not adjust the rents of its housing estates in a timely manner in accordance with the actual circumstances and needs of tenants and the community.

'The existing statutory requirement that the median rent-to-income ratio should not exceed 10 per cent following any rent increase effectively means that rents can only be adjusted downwards,' he said.

Mr Suen said views were divided on differential rents expressed during the consultation period.

'As mentioned in the consultation paper, the main purpose of putting forward the proposal is to provide more choices and flexibility for tenants. I notice there are grave reservations on differential rents among some quarters of the community,' he said.

Mr Suen added that the Ad Hoc Committee and the Housing Authority would consider reductions in rents for units in 'unpopular' locations or those vacated for a long time. He said this arrangement could help improve the letting rate.