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Friday, December 9, 2016, 21:23

HA to tighten income and asset limits for public flats

By chinadailyasia.com

HA to tighten income and asset limits for public flats
People shelter from the rain with umbrellas as they walk past a public housing estate in Hong Kong on March 24, 2016. ( DALE DE LA REY / AFP)

Hong Kong's Housing Authority (HA) on Friday announced tighter control over well-off tenants living in public housing estates, aiming to shorten the waiting list for the needy.

According to the new rule, public housing tenants who either earn more than five times the income limit or hold assets of 100 times more than the limit, or anyone who owns property, have to vacate their flats.

The move may result in disqualification of about 26,000 households, 3.5 percent of the total number of 738,700

The move may result in disqualification of about 26,000 households, 3.5 percent of the total number of 738,700, according to HA statistics as of the end of June.

Currently, only tenants surpassing both income and asset limits need to move out. Households with income exceeding three times the public rental housing (PRH) income limit and assets exceeding 84 times the asset limit are required to vacate their flats within 12 months. Those who earn more than three times the PRH income limit need to pay double the rent plus rates.

For a single person, the income limit is HK$10,970 a month and the net asset limit HK$242,000.

The new rule will be implemented in October 2017. Temporary stays for a maximum of a year are granted to tenants through applications, assisting those who need time to find new places to live, according to the decision.

Chairman of the HA’s Subsidized Housing Committee Stanley Wong Yuen-fai said after a special committee meeting that he expects the move to ease the pressure on the city's public housing system.

Wong took the income limit for a family of four as an instance, which is approximately HK$26,000. Only when the household income exceeds HK$133,000 should they move out, according to Wong.

As for tenants who have to move out once they become private property owners, Wong emphasized that the same policy also applies for new public housing applicants.

However, the decision faced strong opposition from the city's public housing concern groups. They said the move could not address the current housing scarcity and might hurt the interest of innocent citizens. Thus they called for more thorough discussions and consultation with the tenants.

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