Hong Kong property

Filipino tycoon Lucio Tan’s Hong Kong leasing business of 500 subdivided flats halts after breaching land lease rules

  • The authorities also order Tan’s Eton Properties to return the properties to their original design
PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2018, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2018, 11:28pm

Eton Properties, owned by the family of Filipino magnate Lucio Tan, has been forced to put a hard stop to its leasing business of more than 500 subdivided flats in Hong Kong after breaching land lease rules.

The Lands Department also ordered the developer to return the properties to their original design or risk confiscation.

Eton’s marketing manager Cynthia Cheung said the company would change the use of the affected properties but did not provide details.

Since August last year, the developer had converted three luxury residential developments to house more and smaller flats, with each unit as small as 60 square feet.

It turned 18 flats in Woodland Villas on Shouson Hill Road into 270 units ranging between 80 and 200 sq ft in size to rent out as co-living space to young professionals. The development was renamed Mini Ocean Park Station and the flats offered at an all inclusive monthly rent starting from HK$8,000 (US$1,021).

Another development Banbo Villa in Stanley was transformed into 255 flats with units ranging from 60 sq ft to 120 sq ft, compared with the original 2,100 sq ft size of each unit. The smaller flats at the project, renamed as Mini Studio, are offered at as low as HK$4,000 per month.

Filipino tycoon subdivides Shouson Hill units into nano flats, pricing them more than Four Seasons’ rent

The third project involved turning three houses into 12 flats, with sizes from 1,200 sq ft to 1,500 sq ft, at King’s Court at 5 Mount Kellett Road, The Peak. The units were being offered for about HK$60,000 per month.

The Lands Department issued warning letters to Eton between February to July, saying that “these buildings have breached lease condition including the changes without secured permission from Lands Department”.

It said the increased number of units at Woodland Villas had exceeded the capacity of existing parking facilities, while the changes made at King’s Court resulted in more available gross floor area than was legally allowed under the land lease rules.

Meanwhile, the Mini Ocean Park Station development was shrouded in darkness on Monday evening, with no tenants in sight.

A security guard from the adjacent Xanadu Court estate said he had seen tenants moving out of the development since the beginning of this month.

Eton said last December the development had a 70 per cent occupancy.

According to government data, an estimated 210,000 people in Hong Kong live in cramped subdivided units – with a typical living area of around 60 sq ft per person – and spend over one-third of their monthly household income on rent.

The Buildings Department has tried to crack down on illegal conversions in the past. It closed down some subdivided flats in the Cheong Fat Factory Building in Cheung Sha Wan in July 2016 after a major fire ravaged the building.

Additional reporting by Lam Ka-sing