• Tue
  • Sep 16, 2014
  • Updated: 5:07am
NewsHong Kong

Tenants fear eviction from tiny flats

Tiny flats in industrial buildings are illegal, but those who live in them have nowhere else to go

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2012, 5:34am

A tenant living in a 30 sq ft subdivided flat in an industrial building sees no hope of moving to a bigger home unless the city's severe housing shortage can be eased.

Casual worker Yu Wai-chan, 50, can barely afford the tiny flat, which has no windows and is barely big enough to fit a single bed, for a monthly rent of HK$1,300. It is so small he keeps his belongings in makeshift racks and cabinets on the wall.

His is among the 29 households sharing a 2,000 sq ft unit at an industrial building in Tai Kok Tsui.

Yu is one of about 20,000 tenants in subdivided flats in industrial buildings in Hong Kong, according to the Society for Community Organisation.

When the society interviewed 100 such tenants between August 2011 and March this year, it found that 90 per cent were living in spaces of less than 70 sq ft each, the minimum recommended by the Housing Authority.

Subdivided flats in industrial buildings are rented on average for HK$1,400 a month, with a HK$300 deposit. Yu said he could not afford space in a subdivided flat in a residential building as they cost HK$2,000 to HK$3,000. He earns about HK$10,000 a month for his family of three; his wife and daughter now live in Shenzhen.

On September 18, the Buildings Department served eviction notices to tenants in Yu's building, which is supposed to be for industrial use. The tenants were given a month to move out.

Yu and his fellow tenants are waiting for authorities to make the next move.

He said he would just find another cubicle in an industrial building if he were evicted.

"We are not committing any crime by living in these cubicles," he said. "If the government says this is against the law, then why doesn't it think about how to resettle us first?"

Sze Lai-shan, the society's community organiser, said the cheap rents and small deposits of such spaces appealed to workers on low pay and little in the way of savings. She said the removal subsidy of HK$2,100 from the Community Care Fund was barely enough for tenants to find a better place to live.

Sze suggests the government let tenants stay for the time being because of limited housing supply and the lack of rent controls.

If an assessment found that the buildings were not unsafe, but the evictions were solely because of land-use violations, the evictions should be suspended, she said.

The survey also found that 80 per cent of those interviewed did not know that it is illegal to live in industrial buildings, as they can find public advertisements for these subdivided flats.


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This article is now closed to comments

big house good living.not like HK animal life for humans
Great china
Kevin Lau
It is meaningless to evict those people living in subdivided flats of industrial building. The eviction just forces the tenants to move from an industrial subdivided flat to another. As the low income tenants simply can not afford the rent of residential building. The eviction just is a disturbance for the tenants. I agreed that if the subdivided flat is safe, the government should not evicted the tenants unless the government can arrange a better living premise to the tenants.
Shameful HK. these are hard working people, may not be educated, but contributes so much to serve you and me and we treat them like a slave! Shame on all of us. If u look at Singapore I am sure no such a nonsense but their GDP has surpassed HK with less population. So you tell me what's really good is HK besides u can go protest all the time? But those protest all the time, how much they care about these 20,000 families alone in industrial blogs plus thousands in private buildings live like animals. Where is our Legco members ? What are they doing?
To continue this is how selfish most HK people. Rather u see protest against new land development, against national education but the kids didn't care about these 50,000 to 100,000 families living like a slave or a dog because all these middle class are too complacent they just don't care. If they care about the society they should surround the government building and push for changes in housing like what they did in national education.
But that's capitalism.
Let's puncture this myth, there's limited housing for hkd1000. There's plenty of idle housing asking for more.


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