22 October 2019
The rent for a subdivided flat can take as much as half of a grassroots family's monthly income. Photo: HKEJ
The rent for a subdivided flat can take as much as half of a grassroots family's monthly income. Photo: HKEJ

Rent hike for subdivided flats much higher than average: survey

Grassroots families who live in subdivided flats face rent hikes that are much higher than the average in Hong Kong, Apple Daily reported on Monday, citing a study conducted by the Society for Community Organization (SoCO).

SoCO, a non-governmental organization and human rights advocacy group, said seven out of 10 families living in subdivided flats had their rents increased by 18 percent over the past two years, while the average rent hike during the period was 11.8 percent.

The report was based on a survey of 71 grassroots families who have been living in the same subdivided flats over the past two years.

The respondents were part of the 2,000 grassroots families that SoCO has been monitoring.

The median monthly income of these families accounted for only 34.7 percent of the overall median income in the city, the group said.

One tenant, surnamed Chu, said she is paying HK$3,500 a month for a subdivided flat less than 100 square feet in Tai Kok Tsui.

When her three-member family moved into the flat eight years ago, the rent was only HK$2,000. But recently, the owner has been raising the rent by HK$500 every six months.

If the water and electricity costs are added, Chu pays around HK$4,500 a month, or one-third of the family income.

Although Chu’s family started receiving a monthly allowance of HK$11,000 from the Community Care Fund this year, nearly half of it is eaten up by the rent.

Another subdivided flat tenant, surnamed Cheung, has a monthly income of HK$7,000.

He used to rent a 100-square-foot flat for HK$2,000, but now he is paying HK$3,000 for a 60-square-foot room. He said because of the high rent, he has little money left for his meals and other daily needs.

Cheung said he hopes authorities will regulate water and electricity tariffs in subdivided flats and relaunch rent control.

“When the owner knows that you are receiving more government allowance, he will increase the rent again,” he told the newspaper.

SoCO said the Rating and Valuation Department does not include subdivided flats in its rental index, and as a result, fails to give an accurate gauge of the rental expenses of grassroots families.

The organization urged the government to intervene in the rental property market when needed and relaunch a rent control mechanism to help grassroots families.

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