There are various reasons why public housing in Hong Kong is popular. First of all, it is the cheapest option to get decent housing. This region is one of the most densely populated in the world. Not only that, the prices of real estate are also one of the most expensive. Based on the peak of home prices in September of 2015, the city is classified as one of the most expensive in the world. While this is okay for middle and high-income earners, it is not good for those earning a low income. They cannot just give up their dreams of homeownership.

This is where public housing comes in. It reflects the effort of the Hong Kong government to provide housing to those who are not earning enough to afford private housing in the region.

According to the Hong Kong housing data, the government is targeting 480,000 units until 2025. Apparently, this is split at 60:40 between public and private housing. The 290,000 flats allocated for public housing are divided into 200,000 for renting and 90,000 for selling (subsidized flats). While this may seem huge, the waiting list for public housing remains to be very long. In fact, the wait list will take more than 3 years.

This is why it is imperative that you check if you are eligible for public housing in Hong Kong.

How To Become Eligible For Public Housing In Hong Kong

What will make you eligible to rent public housing in Hong Kong

There are two ways for you to avail of the low-cost public housing in Hong Kong. The first is by renting a unit. This is done through the Public Rental Housing Scheme (PRH). It is maintained and administered by the Hong Kong Housing Authority.

So what are the eligibility requirements to rent through the PRH?

First of all, you need to be 18 years old or above. You should be a resident for 7 years (or at least half of the family intending to live in the flat should be) and have a land right in Hong Kong without limitations in your stay. It is also important that you meet the income limit stated in the Housing Authority income and asset limit. Some people earn a low income, but since they have a land somewhere, they cannot avail of the PRH.

If you are married, you have to apply with your spouse – unless you are legally divorced or are going through it, and if your spouse is not allowed to acquire land in the region. While going through the application, you should not take an interest in any other domestic property – at least until the application process and the tenancy agreement are signed. If one of your family members is currently applying for other subsidised home ownership schemes, they may not be granted eligibility to rent through the PRH.

Take note that the PRH prioritises the elderly (especially those who are single), the disabled and the financially challenged families. If you fulfill these, you can be deemed eligible for public housing.

What will make you eligible to buy a public flat in Hong Kong

The second option to benefit from the public housing in Hong Kong is through homeownership. This is more thorough and strict because you get to own the property. There are various ways to buy a public housing unit, but understand that there are two types of applicants.

  • Green Form Applicants

These are existing PRH tenants. They should also have passed eligibility vetting and hold a Letter of Assurance from the Housing Department as proof that they are eligible to be allocated a PRH flat. Any junior civil servants are also eligible to benefit from the public housing through the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS). This also includes recipients of a rent allowance through the elderly.

  • White Form Applicants

These are applicants who live in private housing units or have family members residing in a PRH or subsidized housing scheme. Those who are also flat owners through the Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS) will also be eligible to buy public housing through the HOS. However, they are only allowed to apply if they meet the requirements imposed by the Housing Authority.

To know more about these applicants, visit the Housing Authority website.

Take note that most of the eligibility requirements that PRH applicants will go through are the same as what you need to prove to buy a public housing flat. You also need to be honest about the other Housing Authority schemes and programmes that you have applied to or are currently involved in. Some of them will not make you eligible for public housing.

According to the data on the general sales of public housing in Hong Kong, there are more than 2,600 new flats that will be completed by 2018. They are to be distributed through the HOS. More units will be up for selling. If you feel that you are eligible for a low-cost housing option, go ahead and apply for it.

It is also important that you are ready to make payments when you are applying for home ownership of a public housing unit. This applies specifically to those who intend to buy through the TPS. You need to pay HK$2,500 to serve as your Intention Money. In case you decide to withdraw your application, and it is done before the acceptance, this will be refunded.

All of these may seem promising for someone who can only afford a low-cost unit in Hong Kong. However, you have to remember that there is a long waiting period – even for those eligible for public housing. So make sure that your application and requirements are complete so you can be given a Letter of Offer. It will take years to wait for a unit to be available, but considering the high real estate prices in Hong Kong, the wait may just be worth it.

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Abigail Wong is the Writer of The New Savvy.

She is a Singapore Management University 2nd year undergraduate specialising in Strategic Management. From Tampa, Florida, she possesses an International Baccalaureate diploma from C. Leon King High School, and previously held the position of Treasurer of the King High School Division of the French National Honour Society and the Science National Honour Society. Abigail is currently acting as President of the French Cultural Club for SMU International Connections, and as a Resident Advisor and Fire Warden for the SMU Residences at Prinsep.

Abigail is a Former Florida Science Olympiad Champion in chemical forensics and protein modelling, and former Health Occupation Student’s Association District Champion in clinical nursing.

In her free time, Abigail enjoys interacting and caring for animals. She has previously volunteered for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay as an Adoption Assistant.

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