Owners of subsidised flats may apply for guaranteed loans to pay premiums in the event that they want to sell or lease their homes, under a new measure announced by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in his budget speech today. Under existing laws, owners of these flats must pay premiums to the Housing Authority or the Housing Society before they can sell or lease their properties. There have been calls for a relaxation of this constraint recently as a way to encourage the sub-lease of these units and thus increase the supply of affordable rental housing. The Mortgage Corporation was considering launching a new Premium Loan Guarantee Scheme to help them for this purpose, Tsang revealed. “After settling the premium payment, owners will have greater flexibility in disposing of their flats, such as letting out or selling the flats in the open market,” the finance minister said. Separately, the government will offer 29 residential sites for sale in the coming financial year for private developers to build a total of 16,000 units. Development minister Paul Chan Mo-po will roll-out the details tomorrow. Without announcing any further market-cooling action for now, Tsang cautioned of the increase in the prices of small and medium-sized flats in the past year, saying he “will not hesitate to introduce measures when necessary, in order to maintain the healthy and stable development of the property market and safeguard the stability of our macroeconomic and financial systems”. READ MORE: For all the latest budget news and analysis, click here “The public should be extra cautious when making decisions on purchasing property, and carefully assess the potential risk they need to bear in case of a market downturn,” he warned.