Minister adamant on reform of flat sales

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 January, 2012, 12:00am


The housing minister yesterday stood firm against developers' proposals to use 'gross floor area' as the basis for listing property prices, warning that to do so would cause more confusion for buyers.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng said there had been a consensus over the use of 'saleable floor area' as the basis for measuring flat sizes, and that it was widely supported by professional groups and the Consumer Council.

Last year the government started a two-month consultation, which ended on Saturday, on regulating the sale of new flats.

One key issue at stake is whether developers can continue to use the measurement of gross floor area, which includes common areas of a building like the lobby, or revert to saleable floor area, which is just the space in the actual flat.

Cheng said that saleable floor area was preferred 'because there is no standardised definition for gross floor area.

'Without a standardised definition, it would lead to confusion and give rise to 'inflated flats' or other situations that no one wants to see,' she said.

She was responding to a report that a Cheung Kong subsidiary had instructed its staff to send e-mails to the government opposing the plan.

Apple Daily reported yesterday that Citybase Property Management had asked employees to send the e-mails supporting the use of gross floor area as the unit for listing flat prices because it was 'traditional'.

The report quoted an unnamed staff member as saying that they were asked to print out the e-mails to show to senior management as proof. The employee said many colleagues had bowed to the pressure for fear they could be sacked if they did not do so.

Citybase, which has a staff of more than 2,000, yesterday denied having put pressure on staff, saying it was a 'miscommunication'.

Cheng stressed that the government would consider all the views submitted and aimed to introduce a bill to the Legislative Council in the first quarter of this year.