Points to note when looking for a flat and before signing a tenancy agreement

Written by Vimel Meng, OPSA Student Host

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OPSA Student Hosts, 2016-2017
Are you looking for a flat and about to sign a tenancy agreement? Most landlords of private accommodations tend to consider only leases of at least one year. It is always important to know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. There are a few things you should pay attention to when looking for a place to stay and before signing a tenancy agreement. Tips are available on the Hong Kong Government website! Both English and Chinese versions are available. Please do study it carefully!

Here are a few tips to help:
1) Site Visit
Try to visit the accommodation in person before signing the tenancy agreement. Do not just trust the photos provided by the landlords. Visiting to the nearby community during daytime and nighttime will also enable you to check whether you will feel satisfied to live there for almost a year.

2) Fees Required 

  • Agent Fee: If an accommodation is rented through a property agency, normally the tenant will have to pay a commission equivalent to 50% -100% of a monthly rental fee.
  • Deposit: Deposit, i.e. equivalent to two month’s rent, is usually required.
  • Rental Fee: Some landlords require the tenant to pay 12-month rental fee in advance while some may require to you settle the rent monthly. Usually if you pay the 12-month rental fee in advance, the rental fee will be a bit lower. The furnishing of the accommodation may also vary from nothing to full-furnishing. Usually the rent of an accommodation with full-furnishing will tend to be a bit higher.
  • Utility Charges: Please make sure that you know how the electricity bills, water bills and internet bills, etc. will be charged monthly. Check whether they are included in the rental fee.

3) Responsibility of the repair of furniture, electrical appliance and etc
Please check with the landlord and look into the tenancy agreement carefully for who is responsible for the repair of doors, windows, kitchen and bathroom fittings, piping, drains, furniture, electrical appliance (such as washing machine, air conditioners and fridge) etc.

4) Subletting
Tenancy agreements usually contain a clause that prohibits the tenant from subletting the accommodation to another party. Any subletting by the tenant will breach the clause and the landlord can institute legal action. You are advised to have a direct conversation with the landlord and also check the tenancy agreement carefully before you rent a place from a tenant. Do not pay any fees to anyone except the landlord if you are not sure whether subletting is allowed according to the tenancy agreement. In case you have to leave Hong Kong and would like to sublet your room to other tenant, again, you must check carefully your tenancy agreement, inform the landlord and make sure you have the right to do so.

OPSA Student Hosts will continue to introduce to you all sorts of advantages of living in different districts in Hong Kong. Tips and tricks about living in Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei, Fanling, Sheung Shui and Yuen Long are available at OPSA website. Please stay tuned with us!

You are also welcome to contribute your ideas and let us know your needs. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us by email.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference only. In case of doubt, please refer to the relevant laws or seek advice from licensed real estate agents.