Legislators yesterday criticised housing chief Michael Suen Ming-yeung for not reducing rents for public tenants. 'Over 3,000 tenants have met difficulties in finding jobs, yet the housing chief is not willing to help them even when tenants' income drops significantly,' Democrat Party leader Yeung Sum told a Legco housing panel meeting. Mr Suen, the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, said safety nets provided relief for public tenants facing hardship. But Fok Tin-man, of the Society for Community Organisation, said that of 75,000 tenants on low income, only about 2,000 had sought help under the authority's Rent Assistance Scheme. 'It's obvious the policy of the authority is not good enough,' she said. The Court of Appeal ruled last week that the Housing Ordinance does not place a duty on the authority to review rents every three years or to keep rents below 10 per cent of median household income. The plaintiffs have vowed to appeal to the highest court. Rents exceeded 10 per cent of median income from the start of 2000 until the end of last year, when the ratio of rent to median income reached 14.2 per cent. Miss Fok said the rising ratio showed many tenants were no longer able to afford the 'high' rents. She said the average monthly income of households in public housing had fallen from $12,400 in the third quarter of 2000 to $10,500 by the fourth quarter of last year. Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming said the high rent charged for new public housing would make tenants even poorer. Mr Suen said it was inevitable that rents for new public housing were higher. 'We're talking about $3,000 to 4,000 a month for an apartment with three bedrooms. We can't charge the same rent when housing quality varies.'