By Kelly Merrick
Five things you need to know about renting in Hong Kong…
1. Anything can be negotiated in tenancy agreements as long as both parties agree prior to signing the contract. Standard contracts in Hong Kong are for 24 months with a break clause at 12 months (plus two months’ notice), meaning the minimum lease is 14 months. If you know you are leaving in 12 months’ time, negotiate for 10 months plus two months’ notice to ensure a contract that suits your needs.
2. If you need to break your contract before the break period, let your real estate agent know right away. Agents can usually find a new tenant and create a new lease. In this situation, the landlord usually keeps part of the deposit for the new commission. Paying half a month’s rent is much better than losing two months’ deposit. Communication is key to creating a situation in which everyone can be happy.
3. Wear and tear is a somewhat subjective term and can vary depending on the years that you have occupied the home. Tenants are not required to paint the interior walls unless they have changed the colour, in which case they would need to return them to the previous colour. Most landlords understand that items will need repair and replacement over the years. It is important to address who is responsible for the repairs and broken items in the contract. Landlords are normally responsible for repairing items that are part of the house, but read your contract carefully—this is not always the case.
4. Most contracts warn against pouring grease down a sink drain or toilet. If a plumbing problem arises due to grease being poured down the drain, the repair cost can be the responsibility of the tenant. It’s a good idea to keep a glass jar under the sink to pour the grease into when cooking. Be sure to teach your family and helper, if you have one, not to use sinks and toilets for the disposal of grease, hair and other such items.
5. Lastly, finding an agency you can communicate well with and that you can trust is an important part of the process. Having an agent as an intermediary can take a lot of the stress out of dealing with any troublesome issues that arise. It also provides you with peace of mind, as you’ll know you always have an expert at hand should you need advice.