The Housing Authority has offered to reassess the rent of 15,000 of its commercial tenants. The authority's commercial properties committee chairman, Ng Leung-sing, said yesterday the free reassessment would cost it $10 million. Mr Ng said tenants would get cuts if rent were found to be higher than the market value. 'Under-charged' tenants would continue to pay the same rent. The move was aimed at relieving economic hardship for business owners. But property agents warned the move could depress rent in the private sector. The Housing Department's chief estate surveyor for commercial projects, Yim Ka-yan, admitted the reassessment could affect the private sector. 'Our assessment will be based on the market value. However, there is always an interaction between public and private sectors,' Mr Yim said. A similar move by the authority in 1988 led to an average cut of 20 per cent in public-sector commercial rent. Society of Hong Kong Real Estate Agents member Chan Tung-ngok said the assessment would encourage tenants of nearby private shops to ask for rent cuts. Rents in private commercial premises had dropped five to 10 per cent since the US terror attacks, Centaline Property Agency senior manager Wong Leung-sing claimed. Mr Wong said although the authority's move might provide slight relief for its business tenants, it would 'deteriorate market sentiment'. 'Rent cuts are not a long-term solution to the dying retail business. The trade will not revive unless the whole economy can pick up,' he said. Meanwhile, the rental housing committee passed a proposal to give 580,000 families in public flats one month free of rent in December. The committee will also freeze the rent of 530,000 public households for a year.