Hong Kong subdivided flat tenants facing eviction slam government for not rehousing them
Eight households living in an industrial building in Kwun Tong fear imminent eviction from their homes amid government crackdown
A group of 12 people from eight households living in a Kwun Tong factory building’s subdivided flats has accused the government of failing to rehouse them ahead of a clearance operation, while the administration argued that it was required to remove illegally converted units to ensure public safety.
Non-government group Society for Community Organisation, representing the tenants, said on Friday that they faced imminent eviction after their landlords decided to implement a removal order issued by the Buildings Department in October 2014.
There is no legal definition of a subdivided flat. The term is commonly used to describe a flat that has been partitioned into two or more self-contained cubicles. Many are illegally converted and are popular with needy families.
A tenant, who wished to be identified only as Mr Tsui, said he had been living with his wife and two young daughters in two cubicles on the building’s rooftop for years.
“I paid HK$3,000 a month for two units with a total area of 140 square feet,” the father of two told the South China Morning Post.
“I don’t want to live on welfare. But as a security guard, I only earn HK$8,000 a month.
“What choice do I have?” Tsui said of the difficulty in finding affordable housing in Hong Kong.
Angela Lui Yi-shan, community organiser with the society, said there could be thousands of families in the city living in this type of subdivided flat.
“These households urgently need rehousing before becoming homeless,” she said.
The organisation said the government had been tightening access to assistance for residents of factory blocks’ subdivided flats.
In reply to a Post inquiry, the Buildings Department said factory buildings were not designed for residential purposes.
The department said its social service team would provide welfare services and counselling for those evicted, if needed.
“The government maintains a long-standing policy of ensuring no one will be made homeless by law enforcement,” it added.