Hong Kong housing

Hong Kong does not lack land for housing, just the will to use it

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 June, 2018, 8:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 June, 2018, 8:01pm

The Hong Kong government is at it again, throwing one big smoke screen on the cause of high housing prices – land shortage! There is no land shortage, only a shortage of willingness to start building and converting land use for this purpose.

First, the developers have large land banks and must be forced to start developing or risk losing the land without compensation.

Second, utilise brownfield areas. Nobody needs those (illegal) dumpsites in the New Territories.

Third, village houses. If we do not want to take away the “small house” right, then strictly enforce the rules with slight adjustments. Any male villager who turns 18 and can prove that he has lived in Hong Kong all along is entitled to a 700 sq ft plot. The house built on it is for him and his family to live in, it is not allowed to be sold or rented out. If he moves or dies, the plot is to be returned to the village so it can be reallocated.

Watch: Explaining Hong Kong’s housing crisis

Fourth, only housing of 2,101 sq ft or more can be sold to non-permanent Hong Kong residents. Residential flats cannot be in the name of a company and all those that are must be converted into personal names. This can be done free of stamp duty as long as it is in the name of one of the shareholders registered since day one.

Fifth, shut down Disneyland. It only costs us money.

Hong Kong’s Ocean Park and Disneyland don’t deserve a free ride

That said, look at the recently announced housing system reform in Shenzhen, with a 40/40/20 ratio for commercial residential, government subsidised, and public rental housing, and strict rules on resale and income checks. Now that takes a lot of determination, vision and guts.

How much longer does Hong Kong have to wait for an integrated housing strategy?

The question is whether the Hong Kong government has the guts to face all those interest groups: developers, the Heung Yee Kuk and, last but not least, themselves – as many have vested interests in property.

Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay