Kennedy Town tenants, whose leases are due to be renewed, may need to dig deeper into their pockets in the first quarter of next year as the MTR Corp's soon-to-be opened West Island Line will drive up demand and rents in the area, property agents say. The 3km line extension, due to open on December 28, will take commuters from Kennedy Town to Sheung Wan in five to seven minutes. "Rents will definitely increase in Kennedy Town after the opening of the Kennedy Town station," said Wong Leung-sing, an associate director of research at Centaline Property Agency. "More people will consider moving to Western district once they familiarise themselves with the new transport facilities." Toby Ma, a sales manager at Midland Realty, said he expected rents in Kennedy Town would increase by 3 to 5 per cent, given the limited choice available. "Kennedy Town will become the focus of attention on Hong Kong Island next year as the area is a major beneficiary of the opening of the new line," Ma said. "Most owners prefer to hold their units from sale or lease to bet on further appreciation in capital and rent once the line fully opens." MTR operations director Jacob Kam Chak-pui said last week the first train to Chai Wan from Kennedy Town would leave at 6am, stopping at Hong Kong University station along the way and skipping Sai Ying Pun station. Sai Ying Pun station was expected to open at the end of the first quarter of next year because difficult ground conditions had delayed the completion of several exits, Kam said. Owners of some tenement buildings near Sai Yung Pun station have reportedly subdivided units as small as 18 sq ft for a monthly rent of HK$3,000 to HK$4,000, inclusive of utilities and free Wi-fi. The leases run for a minimum of three months and the target market is students and white collar workers. Derek Lau, a senior sales director at Centaline, said prices and rents had been surging since the West Island Line was announced five years ago. "Part of the line that will open during the Christmas holiday will certainly give another boost to the leasing market in the area," Lau said. He said more expatriates were moving into Kennedy Town after seeing the area turn into a dining and nightlife area in the past couple of years. "We have seen more drinking and eating places than two years ago," he said. Lau said expatriates were mostly looking for units of 350 sq ft or bigger at monthly rents ranging from HK$15,000 to HK$30,000. "From our experience, an area will lay a golden egg once it improves its accessibility," he said.