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Policy Address measures highlighted

Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau today briefed members of the Trade & Industry Advisory Board on initiatives related to commerce and trade in the 2021 Policy Address.   Mr Yau said the Policy Address focuses on integration into national development and states that the developments of Hong Kong and the nation are closely related.   While the nation is the major growth engine and driving force for the global economy, the 14th Five-Year Plan, the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Qianhai plan, the economic development pattern of not only greater domestic circulation but also domestic and international dual circulation, as well as the Belt & Road Initiative have brought unlimited opportunities for enterprises and professional services providers in Hong Kong.   The city must seize these opportunities and leverage its advantages, Mr Yau noted.   During the meeting, the commerce chief stressed that Hong

Subdivided unit rent control mooted

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)   The Government will introduce an amendment bill into the Legislative Council to implement tenancy control on subdivided units.   Secretary for Transport & Housing Frank Chan told a press conference this afternoon that the Chief Executive-in-Council endorsed the introdution of the Landlord & Tenant (Consolidation) (Amendment) Bill 2021 into LegCo.   The bill proposes mandating subdivided unit landlords and tenants to sign a written tenancy agreement setting out their respective rights and obligations and provide a four-year security of tenure for the tenants.   It also proposes restricting the rate of rent increase on tenancy renewal by making reference to the movement of the rental index of all classes of private domestic properties as compiled and published by the Rating & Valuation Department and subject to a cap of 15%.   The legislative proposals also prohibit landlords from overcharging tenants on utility charges.   Mr Chan noted that the proposed tenancy control framework will be able to achieve the policy objective of providing reasonable protection for subdivided unit tenants, particularly providing them with the much needed security of tenure and preventing unwarranted rent hikes by landlords upon tenancy renewal without unduly compromising the interests and property rights of the landlords.   He added that the Government may consider implementing a rent ceiling based on information collected from stamp duties.   “In regard to the information we are going to collect in the months and years to come, that will provide us with a basis of the rental information with regard to the location, floor number, gross floor area of the unit, also the installation and the orientation. I must say it is a very complicated issue.”   Mr Chan noted this data would have to be analysed within a reasonable and compatible framework, so as to make them useful in determining the rent reference point.   “There is still quite a bit of time and a way to go before we can come up with a firm idea as to how and whether we can make good use of it. So it takes a bit of time.”   Apart from domestic tenancies of subdivided units in residential buildings, the scope of the bill also covers those in industrial and commercial buildings or temporary structures such as rooftop houses and podium houses.   Mr Chan said the primary consideration to extend tenancy control to cover these subdivided units is that tenants living in these units may be even more vulnerable than those living in such units in normal residential buildings and are also in need of the protection of tenancy control measures.   He emphasised that the bill is not to legalise those illegal subdivided units in industrial and commercial buildings or temporary structures, adding that the implementation of tenancy control will not affect the enforcement action taken by the relevant government departments under the existing legislation, in particular those concerning building safety and fire safety.   The bill will be gazetted on July 9 for the First Reading at LegCo on July 14.   If the bill is passed by the council within the current legislative session, it is anticipated that the amended ordinance will come into operation in late 2021 or early 2022 at the earliest.
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