Definitive Guide on renting an apartment in Hong Kong

Puzzling out how to rent a decent place in Hong Kong? Worried that you will be scammed by the online agents or landlords? Here’s a quick yet definitive guide on renting an apartment in Hong Kong and you may take note on the following 2 points:

1. Condition

There are many buildings in HK are of over 50 years. Some of them are aged and worn that are lacking of renovation. If you want to ensure your living quality, it is recommended that the apartment you pick should be newly renovated. You may consult the agent or owner before you actually make the decision. Moreover, a fully furnished flat will be perfect for an expat or a busy family. You don’t have to worry about the price, the decoration, etc. More time can be saved for chilling. Remember to take note on the general structure of the building: they might be walk-up buildings that are not equipped with elevators! One suggestion is that you better do room viewing before you actually move in… Sometimes photos can’t really tell the truth. Check the furniture and electronic appliances carefully, if they are broken down, the landlord might charge you extra!

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2. Size

Studio, 1 Bedroom, 2 Bedrooms…… With such variety of sizes, it highly depends on your budget to decide which one to rent. One essential point to note is that the sizes of every kind of apartment are all much smaller than those in your home country; while the rent is super high that with HKD 10000, you may only get a 100 sq.ft studio. Stay alert for the size that the agents tell you- it might be Gross Floor Area that includes Saleable Area plus common area of the public or just Saleable Area.

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Other than the aforementioned points, there are some common Q&As below:

What documents do I need to prepare before renting an apartment?

Normally, you will have to bring along your passport, HKID card (If you have) and letter of acceptance from your employer in Hong Kong (Monthly salary stated clearly) to prove that you are legal to stay in Hong Kong and able to pay for the upcoming rents.

What will I be required to do in order to secure my booking?

If you are booking via a local property agency, the agents will ask you to sign a tenancy agreement. In Hong Kong, it’s normally 2 years. However, both the landlord and tenant have the right to terminate after 1 year with a 2-3 months’ notice. You will also need to pay for the agency fee and stamp duty (0.5% of annual rental) respectively. Moreover, many landlords will require you to pay for the one-month holding deposit, as well as a security deposit which varies from 1-month rent to 3-month rent. It will be refunded if there is no breach of contract terms, e.g. loss of sofa, unreasonable tearing-off of wall papers. Therefore, you will need to be aware of the agreement terms before you sign it- Ask for clarifications and probably translations from the agent or landlord.     

Can I rent an apartment for less than a year?

Technically yes as there is no minimum term for tenancy in Hong Kong. However, in reality, 90% of landlords prefer to rent their apartments to tenants for at least 2 years. Therefore, if you want to rent for a short period of time in Hong Kong, it is advised that you should consider renting a serviced apartment instead. There are various serviced apartments located at diverse corners of Hong Kong and the terms are relatively more flexible.

How much is the commission when renting an apartment?

The standard of Hong Kong’s commission is half month’s commission from the tenant and half month’s commission from the landlord. You will need to pay for the commission once the Tenancy Agreement is signed and agreed.

How much in total do I need to pay to rent an apartment?

In most cases, you will need to pay a total of 2-month rent as security deposit, 1 month rent in advance, half month’s estate agents commission, and stamp duty payable to the HKSAR government.

If there is a break down in one piece of equipment, do I need to pay for the repair?

A Tenancy Agreement should include a clause that states that any chattels included in the premises shall be maintained and be in a proper state of repair at the responsibility of the landlord. If there are any repair and maintenance issues, the landlord and the tenant must follow the tenancy agreement to determine the responsible party.

Therefore, when you are signing for the agreement, you will need to be aware of the terms written and further clarify with the landlord if you have any uncertainty on the interpretations of the specific terms.

Can Hong Kong apartments accommodate pets?

Depending on the Deed of Mutual Covenant of an apartment building in Hong Kong, pets may or may not be allowed in the building. However, it also depends on the landlord whether s/he will accept pets inside the apartment. Prior consent is needed from the landlord if you would like to bring a pet into the apartment and it should be clearly written on the tenant agreement as well, to prevent confusion.

Can I sublet the apartment or get a flat mate?

There is a standard clause in a Tenancy Agreement that states that a Tenant shall not assign, transfer, sublet or part with the possession of the Premises or any part thereof to any other person during the Term of Tenancy and the Tenancy shall be personal to the Tenant named in the agreement. If the apartment is sublet or rent to others without the landlord’s consent, it is regarded as a breach of the contract.

Is the Tenancy Agreement in Hong Kong legally binding?

Yes, it is legally binding and if it is signed under a mutually agreeable situation, it is accepted as evidence in court (including the Lands Tribunal) and it is enforceable against the related parties.

You may refer to this for more details regarding the tenant agreement.

Then, where can I find the right apartment?

Want to have a conveniently located, fully furnished, newly renovated and spacious apartment under a reasonable price? You may go for MetroResidences, which provides you with minimum property standards, that they ensure every apartment rented is a bargain for the guests.

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