- As a tenant, is it a must to sign the “Estate Agency Agreement for Leasing of Residential Properties in Hong Kong” with the Estate Agent?
Ans: Tenants are encouraged to sign the estate agency agreement with the estate agent as the agreement will state clearly key terms of the appointment such as the validity period of the agreement, the agency relationship and the amount of the commission. Doing so will enhance the transparency of the transaction and help protect the interests of both parties.
- Does the law say that the amount of commission should be half of a month’s rental?
Ans: The law has no stipulations on the amount or the rate of commission an estate agent is entitled to. It is subject to negotiation between you and your appointed estate agent.
- Is there any statutory control on rent or security of tenure for domestic tenancies ?
Ans: Rent and security of tenure in respect of domestic tenancies created on or after 9 July 2004 are not subject to any statutory control.
- How can the landlord and the tenant agree on the format of the tenancy agreement ?
Ans: Landlords and tenants may freely agree on the format and all the terms. Landlords and tenants may refer to the booklet entitled "Notes on Signing a Tenancy Agreement" issued jointly by the Consumer Council and Estate Agents Authority which contains useful information on tenancy agreements.
- How to know the property is mortgaged?
Ans: The tenant should check with the landlord or the Land Registry whether the property is mortgaged. If it is, the tenant should ask the landlord whether the bank has agreed to the property being rented out. Generally, a mortgage agreement will stipulate that, unless the landlord has obtained the bank’s approval, the mortgaged property cannot be rented out. Otherwise, the bank will not recognize the tenant’s tenure. If the landlord rents out the property without the bank’s approval and then stops paying the mortgage, when the bank takes possession, the tenant will lose his/her right to continue renting the property. The tenant may also be unable to get his/her deposit back.
- How much deposit should tenant pay to landlord?
Ans: Normally, the landlord will require the tenant to pay a deposit equivalent to one to three months’ rent as security deposit. Upon termination of the tenancy agreement, the landlord is entitled to deduct from the deposit the amount of rent and fees in arrears and return the balance to tenant if any.
- Other than rent, any expenses should the tenant pay?
Ans: The tenancy agreement should state clearly which party will be responsible for expenses or fees related to the rental property. Expenses and fees usually include rates, management fees, property tax, utilities charges (Gas, water and electricity) and repairs costs.
- Can the tenant make alterations to fittings or partitions of the rental property?
Ans: The tenancy agreement should clearly state whether the landlord will allow the tenant to make alterations to fittings or partitions of the rental property. Generally, the tenant is not permitted to make any alterations to partitions and fittings or make additions to the property without the landlord’s prior written consent.
- Which parties have the right to terminate the agreement?
Ans: To protect the respective interests of the landlord and tenant, the tenancy agreement should state that if any party to the agreement breaches any term or condition in the tenancy agreement, the other party is entitled to terminate the agreement.
- Who should be consulted if people have enquiries on the tenancy matters?
Ans: The Rating and Valuation Department is responsible for the administration of the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance. The Department’s Tenancy Services Section provides a free enquiry and mediation services on tenancy matters for the public. Moreover, the Duty Lawyer Services is arranged at District Offices for free legal advises.