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URA updates tenant records by survey

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Friday) conducts a survey to update its records of domestic tenants in five "ex-LDC" projects, in preparation for changes arising from the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) (Amendment) Ordinance 2004 ("The Ordinance").

The URA has commenced 19 of the 25 projects announced by its predecessor, the Land Development Corporation (LDC). Among the remaining six, five of them are residential sites with tenants, namely the Kwun Tong Town Centre, Kwun Tong; Peel Street/Graham Street, Sheung Wan; Sai Yee Street, Mongkok; Sai Wan Ho Street, Shau Kei Wan; and Nga Tsin Wai Village, Wong Tai Sin. An estimated 2,400 domestic households are involved. The sixth is the MacPherson Stadium, Mongkok that has no domestic tenants.

The main purpose of the survey is to update information on domestic tenants living in the project areas. This will allow the URA to estimate the number of re-housing units required and the related costs. The survey will also provide information about domestic tenants who may be affected by the Ordinance, which came into effect on 9 July 2004, abolishing security of tenure and statutory compensation for tenants when their landlords repossess their properties for redevelopment.

The Ordinance provides a grace period of no less than 12 months for domestic tenancies in existence before 9 July 2004, by requiring the landlord who does not wish to renew such a tenancy to serve a transitional termination notice to the tenant upon expiry of the tenancy term. It means that the earliest date for repossession of these tenanted domestic properties under the Ordinance is 9 July this year.

"In view of the abolition of statutory compensation for domestic tenants," a URA spokesman said, "the URA, with its people-oriented approach, will provide rehousing or compensation on an ex-gratia basis, where appropriate, for eligible domestic tenants affected by its redevelopment projects."

Subject to prevailing policies at the time of implementation of the remaining ex-LDC projects, the URA will offer ex-gratia compensation based on the previous statutory formula in force before the enactment of the Ordinance as well as, where applicable, a rehousing option and an incentive allowance for early surrender by tenants. For tenants in non-ex-LDC projects, the URA will offer ex-gratia compensation based on three times the Rateable Value and an incentive allowance for early surrender where applicable. A rehousing option will also be offered to eligible tenants.

"We have been in touch with Legislative Councillors and tenants' representatives and we share their concern that some tenants residing within the ex-LDC project boundaries might have to leave upon tenancy termination and this could occur before the URA commences implementation of the projects," the spokesman said.

"With co-operation of the tenants, this survey will help put their hearts at ease because the URA would have acquired the necessary information for assessing their compensation eligibility even if they have to leave before the URA implements the projects," he said.

The spokesman, however, stressed that the tenants survey should not be taken to mean that the URA would implement the projects immediately. Due to commercial sensitivity and in order to prevent speculation, the URA will only announce the commencement and mode of renewal of a project when it is due for implementation.

Since the Ordinance abolishes the statutory compensation upon redevelopment for domestic tenants only, the survey will not particularly cover the domestic owners and landlords nor the commercial tenants and landlords.

During the survey, the URA aims to collect domestic tenants' data such as the original commencement date of tenancy, present rent, size of rental space and household, etc. A survey was carried out by the LDC in 1997.

With assistance by the Hong Kong Housing Society which has so far undertaken six redevelopment projects in association with the URA, over 300 interviewers have been deployed for the three-day survey starting today. Members of the public who wish to make enquiries about the survey can call the URA hotline 2588 2333.