Step 2 Looking for an Apartment
Appoint a Licensed Agent
It is common in Hong Kong to appoint a licensed estate agent to help find the right property. They usually have adequate resources and can select properties for inspection based on your criteria. They can also verify the identity of the landlord and the property status, assist you in negotiating the terms of tenancy and entering into an agreement etc. Their licence is regulated by the Estate Agents Authority. Before appointing an estate agent, please read the website Be Smart in Appointing Estate Agents, and check the validity of the agent’s licence here.
Search for Residential Properties
If you choose not to appoint an agent, you can look for properties with the help of trustworthy friends, family and relatives, senior students and classmates, or search on the online platforms, websites and social media. You should avoid renting industrial or commercial properties, and should also beware of subdivided units commonly seen in the rental market, which may involve unauthorised building works and safety hazards. When you have selected a suitable property, please do not rush into any payment or agreement. An unfair deal and loss will be resulted if you pay less attention.
Verify the Identity of the Landlord and the Property Status
When you are ready to enter into a tenancy, you can check the land records of the property to ascertain who the registered owner of the property is and if there are any encumbrances registered against it. Particular attention should be paid to mortgaged properties, public rental housing and flats under subsidised housing schemes.
The owner of a mortgaged property should seek the mortgagee’s prior consent to the letting of the property. Where this consent has been obtained, you should learn about its conditions, if any. A property that is let without the mortgagee’s consent may be recovered by the mortgagee, and as a tenant you face the risk of being evicted within a fairly short period.
Public Rental Housing and Flats under Subsidised Housing Schemes
There are leasing restrictions for certain types of residential properties in Hong Kong. For example, subletting is not allowed in public rental housing (click here for details) and the renting of flats under subsidised housing schemes such as the Home Ownership Scheme is subject to the Housing Ordinance (click here for details).
Visit and Check the Properties
- To bring a friend or relative to view the apartment with you
- To examine the apartments’ layout, view, material used, renovation, public facilities, club house, environment, fire prevention facilities, fire escape, etc.
- To try to inspect the apartment during day time so that you can check the apartment from inside to outside
- To observe the following points:
- Furniture and electric appliances are in good condition
- Lockset, doorbell, and peep-hole are functional
- Front door and all bedroom doors are working properly
- Windows, window locks, and curtain rails function well
- Any water leakage or cracks on the window-ledge?
- Any water drains from the hose?
- Wash hand basin and bathtub are functional
- The toilet bowl is in good condition
- Any water leakage from the toilet bowl?
- The flush in the toilet bowl works properly
- The electric water heater is functional
- Living Room and Bedroom
- Any moisture, mold, pop-up, crack, and fleas are found on the floor?
- Is the surface of the floor smooth or cracking?
- Are the gas pipes in safety condition?
- Is the stove working properly?
Source of Information:
• The Land Registry, HKSAR
• Renting a Domestic Property – GovHK Website
• Tenancy Guide for Non-local Students in Hong Kong – Estate Agents Authority
• Stamping Procedures and Explanatory Notes – Inland Revenue Department, HKSAR
• Landlord and Tenant – Community Legal Information Centre
• Monograph – Hong Kong Domestic Tenancy – Estate Agents Authority