By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The Housing Bureau (IHM) has proposed that the eligibility of the 12,000 households currently on the affordable housing waiting list will need to be reviewed again based on the new law that stipulates tougher application requirements.
These households, who have already been on the list for at least seven years, will only be exempt from the new rules concerning the composition of households and also the restriction that they cannot own any property or land five years before applications, according to the draft law of the “Construction and Sale System of Affordable Housing”.
These families will still be subject to the income ceiling and floor requirements to be stipulated by a chief executive dispatch in the near future.
No income cap is imposed on affordable housing applicants under the existing laws.
However, Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On has previously said publicly that only the future applicants will be affected by the new law and that those on the current affordable housing waiting list will not be affected.
IHM president Tam Kuong Man said in a press conference yesterday that the 12,000 households will be given priority allocation of affordable housing units and only after the whole list is handled will the bureau move to work on the new waiting list.
“But we need to use public resources in a reasonable way so that public housing can be allocated to people who are really in need,” Tam pointed out, without elaborating further.
Since the chief executive dispatch has not yet been announced, Tam said the bureau cannot estimate how many households on the existing waiting list will be affected and disqualified.
According to chief of the Public Housing Affairs Department, Cheang Sek Lam, the income and asset limits will be set in accordance with the average transaction price of residential property in the local private market, and may be adjusted “if necessary”.
If the private property prices grow, the income caps will be raised correspondingly, he explained.
Lock-in period extended
The draft law also proposes that an affordable housing unit can only be on-sold freely after a period of 16 years, an extension from the current six years.
However, an owner can sell his or her unit to another person who meets the general requirements for the purchase of affordable housing after six years.
In addition, even when the 16-year lock-in period has passed, an owner will first have to pay the IHM a premium equivalent to the allowance rate he or she enjoyed from the Government when purchasing the public housing unit.
For example, if an owner buys an affordable housing unit at MOP 600,000 and its market price is MOP 1 million, the allowance rate will be 40 percent. After 16 years if the unit is sold at MOP 1.2 million, the owner will need to repay 40 percent of the selling price, which is equivalent to MOP 480,000 to the Government before the transaction can proceed.
Tam reiterated that even if an owner only transfers the ownership of the unit to his or her family member, such a premium would still need to be paid.
Furthermore, the bureau has proposed to change the existing method of allocation, so that the units will be allocated through open lot drawing instead of a scoring system.
Cheang said the lot drawing mechanism will be stipulated by a chief executive dispatch, and only applicable to future applicants.
The bureau also gave more details about the draft law to regulate real estate intermediary activities, which includes a licensing system for real estate agencies (employers) and brokers (employees).
It proposes that the bureau can issue a written warning or fine a license holder who is found to have violated the regulations, and may even order the closure of his or her agency or suspend the license for one month to one year depending on the severity of the irregularities.
Yesterday the Infrastructure Development Office unsealed the 18 tender proposals for the reconstruction of the Fai Chi Kei social housing complex.
All the proposals have been accepted which have a budget ranging from MOP 472 million to MOP 555 million and a construction period of 655 to 690 days.
The reconstruction is expected to begin in the second quarter of this year and complete in 2012.
The new complex, consisting of two towers, will stand 29-storeys high and provide 737 units, comprising 558 one-bedroom, 129 two-bedroom and 50 three-bedroom units.