'Non-elderly' singles may get priority for rental flats

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 4:50am

A high-level housing committee will meet today to discuss ways to allow middle-aged single applicants for public rental flats to get them quicker.

There were 35,000 "non-elderly" singles - people aged over 35 but below 60 - among the 220,000 applicants on the waiting list in December.

Typically low-wage workers living in subdivided flats, they are considered to have urgent housing needs. But they have to wait longer than family applicants and those older than 60 who have been given a pledge by the Housing Authority that they will receive housing within two to three years of applying.

In today's meeting, the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee will decide whether to extend the pledge to cover the non-elderly singles.

"Given the tight supply of new public housing units, the suggestion is to extend the pledge in phases, so that the older people, say those over 55, will get housing first, and it will come down to 50 and then 40," a person familiar with the committee's work said.

The committee will also discuss whether to set a lower income limit for Home Ownership Scheme flats for sale. It was found earlier that some young applicants for the subsidised flats reported they had no income, creating concerns whether they could afford to pay the mortgage.

Meanwhile, a telephone survey by Chinese University found that 95 per cent of the 753 people interviewed said property prices were too high. This was up five percentage points from the last poll in August last year.

About 27 per cent believed home prices would start to fall in the next 12 months, while about 20 per cent expected them to rise further. Most who said prices would fall believed they would do so by 10 to 20 per cent.

The results reversed the finding of the last poll, when 30 per cent believed prices would rise and 11 per cent expected a fall.

"The government has, for the past six months, introduced a series of cooling measures, and accumulatively they have had an impact," a university press release said yesterday.

"Some people have changed their view that property prices will only go up. A consolidation period has apparently begun."

Researchers suggested that, in light of this, the government need not introduce further cooling measures.

The government has doubled the stamp duty for buyers who already own a flat, while banks have cut the discount on mortgage interest rates.

The authorities are also set to resume regular land sales.