LCQ 8: Combating abuses of public rental housing resources

     Following is a question by the Hon Yung Hoi-yan and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Ms Winnie Ho, in the Legislative Council today (December 7):
     On combating abuses of public rental housing (PRH) resources, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the following statistics on reported abuses of PRH resources in the past five years: the number of reports received, the number of substantiated cases (and the percentage of such number in the total number of PRH tenants in Hong Kong), and the total amount of assets concealed by the tenants concerned;
(2) of the proportions of various abuses of PRH units (including non-occupation of flats, subletting of flats, engaging in illegal activities inside flats, and making false declarations) in the past five years;
(3) among the substantiated cases of abuse of PRH units mentioned in (1), of the number of tenants prosecuted for contravening the Housing Ordinance (Cap. 283) and, among such tenants, the number of those sentenced to imprisonment;
(4) as it is learnt that some PRH tenants did not declare assets in the biennial declarations as required by the Housing Department such as land and landed properties they owned outside Hong Kong in order to avoid asset tests, of the measures put in place by the Government to follow up and prevent such cases; and
(5) whether the Government will review and revise the current asset declaration arrangements for PRH tenants to ensure that the relevant arrangements can effectively prevent the abuse of PRH resources; if so, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that?

     My reply to the question raised by the Hon Yung Hoi-yan is as follows:
(1) to (3) Public Rental Housing (PRH) is precious resource of the community which should be used appropriately and be allocated rationally to those in genuine need. The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) adopts a multi-pronged approach to combat the abuse of PRH proactively, including preventive detection, in-depth investigation, publicity and education, etc.

     The HA's statistics on PRH abuse in the past five years (including the number of reports received, cases with available information enabling further investigation, substantiated cases, etc.) are set out at Annex. The HA does not keep statistics on the proportion of various types of abuse of PRH units and the total amount of assets concealed by the tenants.

     In the past five years, there were about 670 cases with prosecution actions taken for contravening the Housing Ordinance. As at November 25, 2022, 11 residents were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment (including suspended sentences).

(4) to (5) In order to achieve the targets set in the indicators for specified tasks as stated in the 2022 Policy Address, the HA will, on a yearly basis, vet no less than 450 000 Income and Asset Declaration Forms under the revised "Well-off Tenants Policies" within a two-year cycle, and conduct in-depth investigation of no less than 10 000 households involving cases related to income and asset declaration and occupancy position. The HA will adopt various strategies depending on the situation, deployed appropriate manpower and enhanced the communication and collaboration with relevant government departments at appropriate time for combating abuse of PRH proactively. PRH households are obliged to declare their assets honestly as required by the HA, including lands/landed properties outside Hong Kong. The tenants will be subject to legal consequences if they make false statements. For any suspected or reported abuse case, the HA will conduct in-depth investigation and interview the tenants concerned to verify the information they declared. When implementing relevant policies and measures, the HA has always adopted a pragmatic approach to strike a good balance and review from time to time to ensure rational allocation of PRH resources.

Ends/Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Issued at HKT 14:50