Finding a Hong Kong apartment can be a tricky task. Here are some tips on what to keep an eye on.
Contracts Checklist for Rental Property
Keep in mind that almost everything is negotiable. Here is our checklist of points you may wish to consider when negotiating a tenancy agreement.
The real estate agents will usually ask you to sign a Form 6 Agreement which states that you are to pay them commission equal to half a month’s rent if the rental is successful. For example, if you successfully rent a Hong Kong apartment for HK$14,000 a month, the agent’s commission will be HK$7,000. This commission is usually not negotiable, however, if you catch the agent in a quiet market, you may try your best at negotiating a more favourable rate. Once commission is paid, retain a copy of the receipt for the commission fee.
Furnished v Unfurnished Apartments
Some HK properties can be rented out fully furnished whilst other apartments are rented out completely empty. If you have come to Hong Kong without furniture, you may ask the agent to find you a furnished Hong Kong apartment or if you have found an apartment that is unfurnished, you may ask the agent to negotiate with the landlord to see whether they can furnish it for you but be prepared to pay a premium for this. A list of furniture that the landlord provides will be included as an annexure to your tenancy agreement, it would be prudent to view the property before signing the tenancy agreement so you can tick off each and every item on the list as you are personally responsible for ensuring that all furniture listed will be present and in good condition upon the expiry of your lease.
Alternatively, if you have brought furniture with you, you will need to your agent that you are looking for an empty apartment and it we highly recommend that you measure the dimensions of your larger pieces of furniture to ensure that it fits in the lifts to your apartment and the apartment specifically. Keep in mind that in Hong Kong properties are small and the furniture you bring may be too big to fit in the Hong Kong apartment. Hence, we suggest that you come to HK without your furniture for ease of finding a Hong Kong apartment that fits in your budget, besides basic home furniture in HK is very affordable.
Car Space with the Hong Kong Apartment
Some apartments (especially in the Mid-levels or Central districts), may come with a car space. If you are interested in a car space, be sure to inquire about it and have it adequately provided for in the tenancy agreement before signing.
Roof Top Terrace Apartments
If you rent a Hong Kong apartment on the top floor of an estate, it usually will have a roof terrace. Roof terraces are hard to come by in HK, so if you wish to take exclusive use and possession of the roof terrace be sure that this is provided for in your tenancy agreement. For the unwary tenant, landlords will usually cheat them of the roof terrace and try to lease it to another third party to receive double rental income.
Management Fee and Government Rates
The landlord should be responsible for these fees and this should be clearly provided for in the tenancy agreement. If it isn’t provided for, you must negotiate it so that you are not responsible for these fees.
Obligations of the Landlord
In tenancy agreements, there is no general obligation on the landlord to do any repairs to the premises, whether structural, external or otherwise. Therefore, you must view the property to see whether there is any damage to the structural foundations or exterior walls of the Hong Kong apartment. If you find any damage, make sure that there is a provision in the contract that clearly expresses that the Landlord will, at their own expense, during the rental term to keep in good condition and proper repair the external parts of the premises and the walls and roofs thereof.
Proof of Identity & Other Documentation
Renting apartments in popular suburbs like Sheung Wan or Mid-Levels or Wan Chai is super competitive, and in busy times like the start of the year, apartments literally get snapped up in days. So if you have your eyes set on a place and you do not want to miss out, be prepared to sign the lease agreement after each inspection by having the following documentation handy:
- Hong Kong Identification card or Passport
- Cheque book
- Adequate cash in the bank for the deposit which is 2 months of the rental payment and agent’s commission which is half of one month’s rent
- A letter from your employer confirming your employment in Hong Kong
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