Step 3 Signing a Tenancy Agreement
Negotiate the Terms of Tenancy and Check if Agreed Terms are Stated Clearly
You and your landlord are generally free to agree on the terms of the tenancy as long as they do not contravene the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance. Contents of the tenancy agreement usually include the following:
Before you negotiate with the landlord/ estate agent the terms of the tenancy agreement, please read again the Notes on Signing a Tenancy Agreement and the Monograph: Hong Kong Domestic Tenancy, both by the Estate Agents Authority. For samples of the tenancy agreement, please check Sample 1 and Sample 2.
In addition, you may check the following tips for signing the tenancy agreement:
- Take some time to read the tenancy agreement thoroughly and carefully. Insist on doing so even if the landlord/ estate agent is not willing.
- To avoid breaking any of the clause in the tenancy agreement, do not agree to anything which you cannot honour. Instead, tell the landlord you do not want that paragraph in the agreement. Make sure any amended clause or paragraph has been initialled by both the landlord and the tenant.
- If you want to share the accommodation with friends, make sure that you get permission from the landlord. If there is an express clause on the tenancy agreement indicating not to sublet, remember to cross it out and add signatures of the landlord and tenant in the margin near it. It should be noted that who signs the tenancy is responsible for paying the rent and any breaches of the agreement. If you do not wish to assume sole liability, make sure that all persons living there sign the agreement.
- Report defect of the apartment to the landlord/ estate agent and request repairs. You may take time-stamped photos for record purpose.
- Receive the keys to the property on the same day of signing the tenancy agreement.
Pay the Deposit/ Rent/ Agent’s Commission (if hired)
You need to know clearly what fee you are paying, and whether it is refundable, and if yes, whether it is clearly written in a proof document. Make sure that you do not pay any extra or excessive charges. After paying any fee, remember to get a receipt from the landlord/ estate agent.
Keep a Copy of the Tenancy Agreement with Stamp Duty Paid
The landlord, tenant and any other persons signing the tenancy agreement are liable for payment of stamp duty. An unstamped tenancy agreement shall not be received in evidence in civil proceedings and cannot be filed or acted upon by any public officer or any body corporate. For stamping procedures and explanatory notes, please click here. Both the landlord and the tenant should respectively keep a copy of the tenancy agreement and the Stamp Certificate.
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