With its thriving economy, numerous employment opportunities, high quality of life, and picturesque environment, Hong Kong is a dream location. However, staying in Hong Kong involves overcoming a lot of challenges, including getting an accommodation. It shouldn’t be surprising that renting an apartment in Hong Kong is no easy task. After all, it is notorious for being the least affordable city to rent or buy a home.
Although rent prices are sky-high in Hong Kong, it’s certainly possible to get a comfortable place you can call home. To make apartment hunting less daunting, this guide walks you through the vital things you need to know when renting an apartment in Hong Kong.
In this article, you will learn about:
1. Where to Live in Hong Kong
2. Questions to Ask Before You Rent an Apartment in Hong Kong
3. Negotiating Rental Contracts
7. Before moving in
8. Where to Find Apartments for Rent in Hong Kong
Where to Live in Hong Kong
There are three areas in Hong Kong – Kowloon, the New Territories, and Hong Kong Island. Each of these areas has its peculiarities. Thus, your choice should depend on different factors such as budget, proximity to the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), presence of schools, social life, and facilities.
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island is home to some of the most expensive apartments in the world. The crème de la crème of the society lives here, especially in places like Central, the Mid Levels, and the Peak, where high rise buildings dot the skyline.
Rents in Hong Kong Island are very high. So, you will need to be sure your salary can cover the cost of rent with enough left. Not everywhere in Hong Kong Island is very expensive, though. Neighborhoods such as Kennedy Town and Sai Ying Pun have small and old buildings that are less pricey than the luxury apartments and buildings in Central and The Peak.
If you have young children, you can opt for locations with excellent schools such as the Mid Levels, South Bay, and Discovery Bay. For entertainment freaks, SoHo and the Mid Levels have remarkable nightlife and are popular among expatriates.
This area is becoming increasingly attractive for those interested in renting an apartment in Hong Kong, largely due to the relatively lower rental price. Flats here are also more spacious, making it ideal if you have a large family. Accessibility is also excellent – a 10 minutes ride from West Kowloon via the MTR takes you to Central.
The New Territories
Although it is considerably farther away from the financial and business hub - Hong Kong Island, the New Territories offer plenty of greenery and beaches. In addition, it has the most spacious apartments for rents in Hong Kong. Prices of leases in the New Territories are also lower than in the other two locations.
With excellent schools and fine restaurants, Sai Kung and Sha Tin are the most popular places to live here. The downside to the New Territories is the not-so-good transport system. If you are hoping to rent an apartment in a Hong Kong area with a top-notch transport system, then the New Territories isn't the best as you'll have to own a personal car or commute by ferry and buses.
Questions to Ask Before You Rent an Apratment in Hong Kong
Once you’ve chosen your preferred neighborhood, a licensed agent will make arrangements so you can view the property. While checking the house, it is vital that you ask some questions such as:
· Are there security guards to ensure safety?
· Is the fire exit easily accessible?
· Are there security cameras?
· Will the apartment be clean and painted before you move in?
· Are the windows, doors in perfect condition?
· Do the bathroom and bedroom doors have locks?
· Is the landlord responsible for the repair of facilities?
Negotiating Rental Contracts
Rent contracts in Hong Kong last for two years. However, in the second year, there’s a break clause that enables either you or the landlord to terminate the lease by sending a notice two months earlier. Depending on the landlord, you may be required to pay the rent for the remaining period.
A standard tenancy agreement prepared by the authority is often used, though landlords may include other terms and clauses such as sub-letting prohibition, premises upkeep, renovations and responsibility for damages.
Therefore, before signing a contract, endeavor to understand everything on the lease document, which may vary from a few pages to more than 40. You can also request that the documents be in English. Otherwise, hire a trustworthy local to translate for you. The best is to get a lawyer to handle negotiations for you.
To rent flats in Hong Kong, you should have your passport, Hong Kong ID (If you have) and employment letter or contract.
Aside from the rent, other fees that are usually required by landlords include management fees, which cover security, facilities, and cleaning. Also, you’ll have to pay the broker’s commission, which is usually equivalent to a month’s rent. There’s also the Government’s rate, which is about 5% of the total rent. Typically, you’ll be responsible for water, electricity, gas and other utilities.
While signing a rental agreement, you’ll be required to pay a month’s rent as deposit. After the signing, this deposit becomes the first month’s rent. You also have to pay a security deposit, which is usually 2 - 3 months’ rent. If there’s no breach of agreement, the security deposit will be refunded. If there’s loss or damages to property, the landlord deducts the cost from the security deposit and refunds the remaining.
Before Moving In
After you’ve signed the lease and paid the fees, request that the landlord hand over the following:
· Set of keys for the doors and mailbox
· List of appliances, furniture, and their condition
· Access cards (If any)
Where to Find Aparments for Rent in Hong Kong
Often, expats and locals prefer searching for a choice apartment online because of the comfort. One of the best sites where you can find listings in choice locations is PrimerSpot HK If by chance you can’t find an apartment you fancy, they have a property alert feature that notifies you immediately there’s one available.
There you have it! With this guide, you won’t find renting apartments in Hong Kong for the long term daunting!