PLC Paper No. LS 86
Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Provisional Legislative Council on 23 January 1998
Legal Service Division Report on
Housing (Amendment) Bill 1998
Object of the Bill
To make some technical amendments to facilitate the implementation of the Housing (Amendment) Ordinance 1997.
PLC Brief Reference
2. PLC Brief HB(CR) 5/4/14 issued by the Housing Bureau in January 1998. (Members may also refer to other related papers: Paper for the Panel on Housing entitled "Housing (Amendment) Ordinance" issued by the Housing Bureau in September 1997 (PLC Paper CB(1) 271(01), Information Paper for the Panel on Housing entitled "Housing (Amendment) Ordinance 1997" issued by the Housing Department in November 1997 (PLC Paper CB(1) 611(01) and PLC Brief HB(CR) 5/4/14) entitled "Housing (Amendment) Ordinance 1997" issued by the Housing Bureau in December 1997.)
Date of First Reading
3. 14 January 1998.
4. The Housing (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (No. 108 of 1997) was passed at the end of the last Legislative Council session in late June 1997. However, the Administration has not yet appointed a commencement date pursuant to section 1(2) of the amending ordinance.
5. The main changes made by the amending ordinance are -
- to restrict the frequency of rent adjustments by Housing Authority in respect of its residential tenancies to every 3 years or more; and
- to limit the rate of rent adjustment so that the overall median rent to income ratio will not exceed 10%.
6. According to the Administration (paragraph 3 of the PLC Brief), the Housing Authority has identified operational difficulties in implementing the ordinance in the following areas -
- flexibility in varying rents according to the financial circumstances of individual households;
- inclusion of households residing in cottage areas and interim housing in the calculation of the median rent to income ratio (MRIR); and
- determination of the overall MRIR.
7. The Bill seeks to address these difficulties by -
(a) excluding Housing Authority property occupied under a licence or permit from the rent adjustment restrictions;
(b) disapplying the restrictions as regards better-off tenants and tenants receiving rent assistance; and
(c) providing clearly that the calculation of the MRIR shall be determined in accordance with a procedure to be established by the Housing Authority.
8. According to the PLC Brief, the legislative proposals have been formulated in consultation with the Housing Authority, having regard to comments made by Members and the public.
Consultation with Panel
9. The Panel on Housing was briefed on the problems of implementing the Housing (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 at its meetings on 29 September and 11 December 1997.
10. Although the Bill is confined to making some technical amendments, Members may still wish to set up a Bills Committee to examine the operational problems as explained and how they are proposed to be dealt with in view of the importance of the policies it seeks to implement.
11. On the technical aspects, clarification on the effect of some of its provisions will be raised with the Administration.
CHEUNG Ping-kam, Arthur
Assistant Legal Adviser
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
21 January 1998