The Blue House cluster of historical buildings in Stone Nullah Lane in Wan Chai has received more than 50 applications from prospective tenants in just one month, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
A dozen flats are being offered to the market, with six from the Blue House and as many from the Yellow House next door.
More people are applying for smaller apartments in the Yellow House with lower rents, with almost 40 applications for the six flats, or 5.6 times the supply.
The other six flats have attracted at least 10 applications. A committee will start interviewing potential tenants on Saturday. The first tenant is expected to move in during May.
The complex was recently renovated by St. James’ Settlement (SJS) to be rented out at discounted rates.
The interiors have been maintained to be as “original” as possible, meaning that the 1920s tenement building was renovated only in places where termites had gnawed out the wood or tiles had been broken, according to architect Wong Wong-yiu.
The Yellow House flats range from 361 to 409 square feet, with rentals between HK$11,552 and HK$13,088 per month. The Blue House flats range from 629 to 880 square feet, with rentals between HK$22,644 and HK$31,680 per month.
The Blue House has a lift added to its original design. It is being rented out at a 20 percent discount to the market rate.
Committee member Ada Wong said applicants will be selected based on their suitability to live in these “tong laus”, as well as their experience, and their future availability to commit to the Blue House.
She said that living in a “tong lau” means that the sense of a community and sharing between people is important.
The Blue House’s rent will be initially negotiated and kept unchanged for two years. Rentals for the third year will be adjusted according to the rateable value of the units.
SJS hopes to preserve the ambiance of an old community, so there will be no management team for the buildings.
Also, there will be no security guards or cleaning services but the premises will be marked as private property.
Wong said tenants should be prepared for tourists or locals to come knocking on their doors from time to time.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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