Overcrowding in public housing estate flats is as commonplace as the tragedies it creates. In the 2,000-unit Yue Wan Estate, scene of yesterday's suspected arson attack, more than 30 flats are shared by unrelated elderly people. The policy can be traced to the 1970s, when, due to limited resources and the shortage of small public rental flats, priority was given to elderly people willing to share. 'When even couples have rows, how can you expect two or three unrelated old people to live harmoniously in one flat?' asked Rita Lam Yu-kiu, chairman of the Association for the Rights of the Elderly. 'When the Housing Authority had more resources, they should have handled these cases immediately,' she said. Ms Lam attacked housing chiefs for what she described as their insensitivity to the problem, and urged that priority be given to transfer requests from senior citizens to stop future tragedies. She said the authority always rejected transfer requests, forcing the elderly to stay with hostile flat-mates. An authority spokeswoman denied this, saying: 'Relationship problems can be solved by mediation, we don't have to separate them.' Officials say the flat-sharing policy allows occupants to help each other. Elderly people are able to have their own flats if they are willing to wait 3.5 years. Ms Lam also urged the authority to improve the design of public flats so that those who share can have more privacy.