Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ20: Enhanced measures against abuse of public rental housing resources

     Following is a question by the Hon Abraham Shek Lai-him and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (November 10):


     According to the Government's housing-related initiatives in the 2007-2008 Policy Agenda presented to the Legislative Council Panel on Housing, ¡§The Housing Authority (HA) will step up measures against abuse of public rental housing (PRH) resources. Suspected abuse cases would be identified at an earlier stage through daily tenancy management and regular home visits. The HA will also step up publicity to promote public awareness of the importance of an effective use of public housing resources¡¨.  Concerning the abuse of PRH resources, the Housing Department (HD) has recently announced that five residents of PRH have been convicted by the courts for making false statement knowingly on income or assets. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the staff establishment for fighting abuse of PRH resources in each of the past three years;

(b) of the number of regular home visits performed by HD staff for identifying possible cases of abuse of PRH resources in each of the past three years;

(c) of the number of cases of abuse of PRH resources substantiated by HA in each of the past three years together with details of the cases and the follow-up actions taken (including the number of PRH units recovered, the fine collected, as well as the amount of rent undercharged and recovered);

(d) of the work of HA in promoting public awareness of the importance of the effective use of PRH resources through publicity in the past three years, and whether it had reviewed the effectiveness of such publicity campaigns;

(e) given that under the prevailing Housing Subsidy Policy, households who have been living in PRH for 10 years or more are required to declare household income every two years, whether the Government will review this policy to better reflect the fast-changing social situations, including considering if the existing 10-year period for the first-time declaration and the two-year declaration interval thereafter should be shortened; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(f) given that the 2010-2011 Policy Address has mentioned that an additional 5 000 random checks on tenants¡¦ household income and assets will be conducted, whether HD will recruit additional staff to conduct these random checks; if it will, of the details; if not, how it ensures that the additional workload will not affect the work quality of its staff?



     The Housing Authority (HA) is committed to ensure the rational allocation of limited public housing resources.  Tenants who have been living in public rental housing (PRH) for ten years are required to declare their household income biennially under the Housing Subsidy Policy (HSP).  Those with household incomes exceeding the prescribed income limits are required to pay 1.5 times or double net rent plus rates.  For double rent paying households, they are further required to declare their assets biennially under the Policy on Safeguarding Rational Allocation of Public Housing Resources (SRA) to determine their eligibility to continue to stay in PRH.  Currently, around 360 000 households are required to declare their income and/or assets biennially under the HSP/SRA.  Under the prevailing mechanism, the Housing Department (HD)¡¦s front line management staff will conduct basic checks on all the income and assets declarations made by PRH tenants whilst the HD¡¦s Central Team will carry out in-depth checks on randomly selected cases, doubtful cases and all double rent paying cases by interviewing tenants/family members concerned and obtain the relevant documentary proof on income/assets.

     The HD has also put in place effective measures to detect tenancy abuse cases, which include non-occupation, unauthorized occupation and illegal use of premises.  Frontline management staff detect tenancy abuse through performing daily tenancy management duties and periodic flat visits.  Any suspected cases are referred to the Central Team for in-depth investigation.  In addition to this, the Central Team carries out in-depth investigations into all complaints and randomly selected cases.

     My reply to the six parts of the question is set out below:

(a) Some 1,400 management staff members of the HD are deployed to daily property and tenancy management duties.  Their duties include tackling abuse of public housing resources.  Among these, 72 staff members are centrally deployed to tackle abuse by conducting surprise flat visits to ensure the proper use of the PRH flats and conducting additional checks on income and assets declarations made by PRH tenants.  Details of the management staff involved in combating the tenancy abuse during the past three years are set out at Table 1.
(b) To safeguard the rational use of public housing resources, the HD has established a Biennial Inspection System (BIS) to detect tenancy abuses.  Under the BIS, estate management staff will conduct flat visits to all PRH households every two years and take the opportunity during flat inspection to detect potential tenancy abuses.

During the last Biennial Inspection Cycle (November 1, 2006 to October 31, 2008), HD staff visited a total of 663 000 households with completion rate of 100%.  For the latest Biennial Inspection Cycle (November 1, 2008 to October 31, 2010), a total of 669 000 households have been visited as at 30 September 2010 with completion rate so far of 97.24%.

(c) The HD does not have information on the amount of rent undercharged which is eventually retrieved.  A breakdown of the tenancy abuse cases and false declaration cases detected during the past three years is set out at Table 2.

(d) To tie in with the enforcement action, the HD has launched a series of publicity and educational programmes including roving exhibitions, a seminar for Estate Management Advisory Committees, a slogan competition, posters and leaflets, newspaper supplement and press releases, video segments and bus-side panel advertisements to disseminate the message of rational use of the limited public housing resources.  We consider the measures taken to be effective but we will, from time to time, review and adjust our publicity and educational programmes as appropriate.

(e) The existing policies on income and assets declarations are considered effective in ensuring the rational allocation of public housing resources.  In 2009/10, some 23 800 PRH households were required to pay extra rent.  The HA has no plan to change the existing mechanism which has been working smoothly and effectively.

(f) The implementation of the one-off exercise to conduct in-depth checks on an additional 5 000 income and assets declarations made by PRH tenants entails additional staff resources.  The HD will internally redeploy not more than 30 experienced staff from various front line management offices to carry out this one-off exercise in the coming six months.  A number of temporary staff will be employed to absorb the duties of the redeployed staff to minimise any impact on normal operation.

Ends/Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Issued at HKT 14:44


Print this page