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New Alternative of Relocation Assistance for Domestic Tenants in Hardship

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) announced today (Fri) that eligible domestic tenants residing in premises of URA projects, who are not entitled to any compensation or financial assistance, can opt for a special allowance - Relocation Assistance, to relieve them of temporary hardship following termination of their tenancies by the landlords.

A URA spokesman said: "This allowance is complementary to the existing safety net for tenants in hardship. Although the number of households in need is expected to be very small, the URA, after consulting the residents and interested parties, would like to offer them assistance where appropriate. This is also in line with URA's caring approach to urban renewal."

The amount of the allowance is three times the average monthly market rent of a public rental housing unit in the urban area for the household size of the tenant concerned. Eligible domestic tenants residing in properties within projects announced by the former Land Development Corporation (LDC) and the URA would benefit from this new arrangement.
"Following enactment of the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) (Amendment) Ordinance on 9 July 2004 (LTAO), domestic tenants are no longer entitled to security of tenure nor payment of statutory compensation. A safety net is already in place to help tenants in need after removal of security of tenure.

"Under existing government policy, domestic tenants who are being rendered homeless can seek the assistance of the Housing Department for temporary accommodation in transit centres.  For hardship cases, compassionate rehousing can be provided by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) subject to eligibility criteria. The Relocation Assistance offered by the URA aims to provide a complementary option to help them address their immediate needs," a URA spokesman said.

In order to be eligible to receive Relocation Assistance, the domestic tenants concerned have to meet the following major criteria, namely that the tenants :

  1. Reside in the premises before and since the project freezing survey (for projects announced after URAs formation) or whose first tenancies commence on or after 9 July 2004 and before the updating survey on 13 May 2005 (for ex-LDC projects);
  2. Eligible for the SWD compassionate rehousing criteria based on assessment by an urban renewal social service team but not suitable for rehousing due to personal factors.

As a separate measure for domestic tenants in ex-LDC projects whose first tenancies commenced prior to 9 July 2004, the URA reiterated its existing policy that ex-gratia allowance in line with the now-repealed statutory compensation or rehousing arrangement would in principle be offered to the domestic tenants in the event that they have to move out of the affected premises.

In order to further improve this existing policy and cater for the needs of such domestic tenants, the URA has decided that this policy now applies not only to those tenants who move out within three months before expiry of Transitional Termination Notices served by their landlords, but also to tenants who have to move out within three months before expiry of tenancies which had been renewed since 9 July 2004 but not renewed again by their landlords, other criteria remain unchanged.

As for Staunton Street/Wing Lee Street project where freezing survey was conducted on 21 March 2003, a date well before the amended legislation taking effect, tenants concerned should have their tenancies commenced before the date of the freezing survey in order to be eligible for Relocation Assistance or the above-mentioned ex-gratia allowance, other criteria being the same.