The proportion of public housing tenants' incomes that goes towards paying rent has increased in the six months since a court ruled they were being overcharged by the Housing Authority. Median rent for public housing units now represents 14.2 per cent of tenants' median household income, up from 13.8 per cent in July. Director of Housing Leung Chin-man revealed the figure as legislators asked him how much tenants had been overcharged. But he rejected suggestions that the authority should lower the rent. The Housing Ordinance stipulates that median rent for public housing be limited to 10 per cent of tenants' median income. The Court of First Instance ruled in July that the authority had failed in its duty to review rents every three years under the ordinance, which took effect in March 1998. The authority is appealing against the ruling before the Court of Appeal. 'We are reviewing the rent level. But we cannot lower it now because we are still in the middle of the legal process. 'If we lose the case, we will lower the rent and reimburse the overcharged amount to tenants,' Mr Leung said. The July court ruling resulted from a case brought by two tenants, retired dim sum waitress Ho Choi-wan, 76, and security guard Lam Kin-sun, who were dissatisfied with the authority's refusal to lower rent despite deflation. The rent level was at 13.8 per cent of families' median income when the court laid down the ruling. Mr Leung attributed the increase to deflation and tenants allocated to newer and bigger public housing flats. 'On the one hand, the deflation problem, the increasing number of people who rely on government welfare, all affect the average household income. On the other hand, we are giving tenants bigger, nicer and more expensive flats,' he said. Confederation of Trade Unions legislator Lee Cheuk-yan urged the authority to lower rent as soon as possible. 'You'd better lower the rent and reimburse the amount overcharged as soon as possible, otherwise you will face a bigger rent reduction as the overcharged amount increases over time.'