Panel tipped to reject two key suggestions to ease housing crisis

Licensing of subdivided units and more single accommodation on estates too controversial

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 5:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 5:01am

The government is expected to reject two proposals to deal with the city's housing problems.

It had suggested introducing a licensing system for subdivided flats and building more single-person units on existing public housing estates.

Both initiatives were among a series of recommendations included in a public consultation document released by the government-appointed Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee in September.

Speaking after a meeting yesterday to conclude a three-month consultation, Secretary for Transport and Housing and committee chairman Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said it had discussed public concerns but had yet to come to a final conclusion.

The committee is due to release a report next month.

Four months ago, Cheung said the government would study the feasibility of a licensing or landlord registration system, which would outlaw subdivided flats below certain safety and hygiene standards.

The proposal has triggered controversy, with supporters saying it could help improve the living conditions in those homes and opponents saying that enforcement of such a law would make many homeless.

Cheung said yesterday: "Our initial view is that if we introduce a licensing system, there will be many issues to tackle. The report will list them."

As for adding new blocks to public housing estates, which residents opposed because they said it would cause overcrowding, Cheung said the report would reflect views collected from the consultation.

Committee member Wong Kwun, chairman of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, said he understood from the meeting that the government was throwing out both ideas.

It also would refrain from recommending the introduction of rent control and an increase in the supply of transition housing.

"Honestly, this report may not have any highlights," Wong said.

Another member, Andrew Lam Siu-lo, said while the report would reflect public opinion, it would be up to the government to decide what measures to take.

The meeting also reaffirmed the target of building 470,000 public and private flats in the next 10 years.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is expected to outline ways to increase residential land supply in his policy address on Wednesday.