• Mon
  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 3:38am

Business people must be protected from greedy landlords

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 4:04am

Doing business in Hong Kong for the small-business entrepreneur is now impossible due to the very poor situation of affordable office space.

We have been looking and looking and looking. What we have found is very depressing. Here are a few examples. An office that is purported to be 479 square feet is actually only 150 square feet when measured - a usable area of just over 30 per cent.

I know that in Wan Chai it is usually around 50 per cent, but over 30 per cent? How can this be correct?

Also, we haggled over the price of one place and finally agreed on a value - only to then be told that we must come up with six months' deposit.

Where else in the world does the landlord demand such unreasonable terms? The agent acted surprised. I am sure he was simply embarrassed.

I have been in Hong Kong for the past 13 years working and operating a small business, often hiring employees. Never has the situation been more desperate for us, in our efforts to get reasonable office space.

The space we were renting 10 years ago is now 300 per cent more today.

I am sure that I am not the only small-business person who is faced with this heavy burden.

It is only reasonable that the Hong Kong government intervenes and establishes some practical regulations that helps reduce the gratuitous greed that exists among its landowners.

I fear that Hong Kong people are becoming the victims of a cross-border tsunami and we will all be washed out to sea soon or later. This is a disaster that is happening now and no one hears the victims, nor cares even if they do.

People in Hong Kong need protection. Don't you agree?

Glen R. Towner, Towner and Partners Ltd, Sheung Wan


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This article is now closed to comments

Neither ICAC investigation of councilors
nor universal franchise
nor changing a CEO
could solve real and present problems
like those raised by reader Towner
(“Business people must be protected from greedy landlords”)
That the letter has hardly attracted any discussion
reflects that the purpose of most commentators and activists
is self-gratifying sensations, schadenfreude, and to cause troubles
To understand Towner’s problem
one may follow K Polanyi’s Great Transformation
a to-and-fro process of changing land and labor relations
and of social remedies to redress angers of the disadvantaged
Enclosure and Speenhamland
Allan G Rand and subprime mortgages
honkiepanky suggests “land reform”
which is easy to talk but difficult to design, less alone implement
Even if we had no land supply and development cost problem
there will still be problems of pricing / allocation
and problems of a self-imposed insular vision
of HKSAR’s further unilateral urbanization
disregarding eco-econo-social benefits
of strategically coordinated PRD development
One-man-one vote can’t be the answer to realistic questions
How much Marx and how much market?
Which part green and which part concrete?
Voters and demagogic candidates who know too well what they want
are too shortsighted to understand and care the consequences of their choices.
Greedy landlords exist everywhere. The problem in HK is lack of efficiently developed land. Lobby the government for land reform, not regulation.
I’ve no a priori objection to government intervention
But I’m not sure how to appraise the “practicality” of regulations
and the appropriateness of any given degree of greed
Between altruism, which is “moral cannibalism” in Randian view
and the destructively creative market efficiency of capitalism
where could we find the compromise?
The gulf between price and value is more difficult to bridge
than that between classical and quantum mechanics


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