The illegal transfer of the so-called right by indigenous male villagers to each build a village house in rural areas has long been an open secret. Regrettably, the practice apparently continues despite having been struck down by the courts a few years ago. The need for tougher law enforcement is obvious. If the new figures released by a land-use concern group is any reference, more than 800 houses that mushroomed across the New Territories over the past two years may involve illegal deals between villagers and developers. This would bring the total number of suspected breaches to more than 10,580, about a quarter of the villas built under the much-criticised small-house policy, according to Liber Research Community. As in its first report in 2018, the group used digital geographical tools, land searches and building features to assess whether individual plots have been collectively sold to developers, a move which contravenes the policy of the colonial administration of allowing eligible villagers to build their own houses for self-use. The study has its limitations, but it still gives reasonable grounds for the authorities to examine further. With the decades-old policy having been challenged in court for different reasons, the authorities should have become more vigilant to irregularities. In a landmark ruling in 2015, 11 villagers in Sha Tin were sentenced for up to three years in jail in connection with illegal transfer of building rights. Since last December, applicants are required to declare whether they have a deal to sell the land rights to a developer, and any false declaration or attempt to defraud the government would become illegal. Over the past three years, 183 cases have been referred to law enforcement agencies. The figure is a disturbing reminder that compliance remains an issue. We trust the new findings will prompt more vigorous enforcement action. This is not the first time the authorities have pledged to follow up on the issue. The legacy that enables all males born of indigenous origin to build a three-storey villa, with a maximum floor area of 2,100 sq ft, appears to be too good a deal in today’s context. It is simply unfair, unjustified and unsustainable.