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  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 10:10pm
NewsHong Kong

Subdivided-flat misery much worse than realised, study finds

280,000 could be living in subdivided flats and paying exorbitant rent, says concern group

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 5:22am

As many as 280,000 families could be living in subdivided flats in old buildings across the city, with many paying higher than average rents, according to a new study by a concern group.

The figure is much higher than the government's estimate last year that 30,000 families live in subdivided accommodation.

The high number was calculated by the Platform Concerning Subdivided Flats and Relevant Issues in Hong Kong, a group formed in March by academics and social workers.

In October and November, the group sent more than 200 college students to inspect 4,045 flats in buildings older than 30 years in six districts, including Western, Kwun Tong, Sham Shui Po and Tai Kok Tsui.

It found that 42 per cent, or 1,639, were subdivided into as many as 10 rooms. The average was 4.3 units.

Using that percentage, the group deduced that there could be 280,000 subdivided units in the 16,000 old Hong Kong buildings - a conservative estimate according to educator Lai Kin-kwok, because the group assumed each block has only 10 flats.

They also found the monthly rent for some of these flats was HK$27 per square foot in October, higher than the average HK$22.20 for 85 private housing developments recorded by Centaline Property that month.

"Many residents we interviewed complained of rising rents and many of them have been waiting for public housing for more than three years," said Lai, from the Caritas Institute of Higher Education.

The group urged the government to impose rent controls and subsidise those residents forced to stay in these units while waiting for public housing.

Officials have no comprehensive statistics on the number of subdivided flats, which are seen as a fire hazard. A survey by the Buildings Department has yet to be completed.

The group's surveyors interviewed 465 people from the 4,045 households.

One of them, Ah Lan, lives with her husband and two sons in a Tai Kok Tsui unit. She complained that their landlord was going to raise the rent by HK$2,000 to HK$5,880 next month. "I don't think I can find accommodation here below HK$4,000. And I don't know when I can get public housing," she said.

Her husband, a decorator, has been on the waiting list for public housing for six years.

They were offered a flat in Kwai Shing in 2009 but rejected it because the location was inconvenient.

The number of applicants for public housing topped 200,000 in September. The government is considering building more than its target of 15,000 flats a year but has dismissed calls for rent controls on private property.


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The more control the government introduces, the less freedom Hong Kong will have. It will lose its competitive advantage as an entrepreneur friendly and free economy.
hard times !
C.Y.Leung, the chief executive and his ministers should themselves set a good example not to have any illegal structures remain in their lodges or operating so-called subdivided flats (such as those run by the family of our development minister,Chan Mau-por's wife) so as to combat or tackle the deteriorating sub-divided flats problem---as many as 280,000 Hongkongers are now living in such poor-quality flats located in old residential buildings across Hongkong.Many of the tenants living in such flats have to pay rents higher than average while their living conditions are below average.The tasks of our Buildings Dept.is really heavy. I wonder why this dept.not to hire more staff to handle the illegal structures/subdivided flats in the territory ? Shame on our SAR administration indeed !
With all this talk about unauthorized building works, AKA, illegal structures, why aren't there building codes that deal with such safety and health issues? These kinds of subdivisions would be outlawed in many other localities, why not in Hong Kong? Then there would be UBAs worth going after and making a fuss over.
And why don't we know how many by looking at the stamp duties paid by the landlords? Could it be that they aren't reporting on and paying the duty? Then these are illegal structures and should be a high priority target of the Building Department with commensurate publicity of each offender.
Yes you're right about this. Lets also see prosecutions of landlords for failing to register tenancy agreements for the payment of stamp duty.
And bring back rent controls immediately. They should never have been removed by Donald Tsang's administration. They also need extending to commercial properties.


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