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LCQ12: The Tenants Purchase Scheme

     Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (October 19):


     To assist the grassroots in purchasing their own homes, the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) had once launched the Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS) to enable sitting tenants to purchase their public rental housing units.  Yet, when there was a downturn in the property market, the Government requested HA to terminate the Scheme.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number and percentage of the 183 000-odd units in the 39 public housing estates available under TPS which have so far been sold, together with a breakdown of the ratios of the units sold by district and estate;

(b) in view of the latest property market and economic situations, whether the authorities will consult public housing tenants on the resumption of TPS; and

(c) when or under what conditions the authorities will consider resuming TPS?



     The Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS) was introduced in 1998 by the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) to enable public rental housing (PRH) tenants to buy the flats they lived in at a discounted price, thereby helping to achieve the then policy objective of attaining a home ownership rate of 70% in Hong Kong in ten years' time.

     In 2002, the Government re-positioned the housing policies, and decided to focus on the provision of PRH to low-income families who cannot afford private rental accommodation, with a target of maintaining the average waiting time (AWT) for general Waiting List (WL) applicants at around three years.  As there was no longer a target for home ownership, there were no longer any grounds for continuing the TPS.  Accordingly, the HA decided to cease the sale of PRH flats upon the completion of Phases 6A and 6B of the TPS.

     The reply to the three-part question is as follows:

(a) Out of the total of 183 568 flats in 39 estates under the TPS, 118 978 flats (excluding those bought back by the HA) were sold as at the end of June 2011, representing 65% of the total number of flats available for sale.  The proportion of flats sold in each district and housing estate is at Annex.

(b) and (c) Recovered PRH flats are an important source of supply for WL applicants.  PRH flats, once sold to tenants, can never be re-allocated, thereby affecting the turnover and supply of PRH flats and undermining the HA's ability to maintain the AWT of general applicants at around three years.  There are currently over 150 000 applications on the WL.  We have no plan to re-launch the TPS at this stage.

     Since the introduction of the TPS, the HA has encountered many problems with the management of PRH flats in TPS estates.  In the 39 TPS estates, there are some 64 000 rental flats (representing 35% of the total number of flats in the TPS estates).  Regardless of the number of flats sold, a TPS estate, as in the case of any private development, has to be managed by its Owners' Corporation (OC).  Empowered by the Building Management Ordinance and the Deed of Mutual Covenant, the OC will decide on the mode of management and how the public areas of an estate are to be managed.  In the TPS estates, the HA's estate management policies cannot be fully implemented.  As a result, tenants living in the TPS estates and those living in the PRH estates are subject to different management regimes.  For example, the Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement is not implemented in the public areas of the TPS estates.  The HA can only deal with the misdeeds committed in rental flats of the TPS estates.

     Although we do not intend to re-launch the TPS, under the current policy, the sitting tenants in the TPS estates can still opt to buy the flats they are living in.  PRH residents who would like to acquire a home may also choose to buy TPS and Home Ownership Scheme flats with premium not yet paid in the secondary market.

Ends/Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Issued at HKT 13:31


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