For Meeting on
1 March 1999

Legislative Council Panel on Housing

Addition of Family Members to
Public Rental Housing Tenancies of Single Elderly Tenants


To inform Members of the current policy in respect of addition of family members to public rental housing (PRH) tenancies of single elderly tenants, and the current space allocation standards for such tenants.


Current Policy

2. Under normal circumstances, persons who can be added into a PRH tenancy include -

  1. tenant's spouse;

  2. new-born babies or children under the age of 18 if both parents are authorized occupants or if one parent who is an authorized occupant is genuinely alone, e.g. deserted, widow and widower, etc.;

  3. dependent parents; and

  4. the spouse and children of one of the tenant's married children under a one-line continuation of the family, provided that the married child is an authorized occupant of the tenancy.

3. Under normal circumstances, adult children cannot be added into the tenancy. However, temporary stay can be granted to genuine cases where the elderly require the personal attention of their adult children. Requests from elderly tenants for addition of children aged over 18 may be considered and approved only on exceptional grounds and individual merits, taking into account the justifications given and the circumstances of the elderly tenant such as health, economic and social conditions, the genuine dependence of the elderly tenant on the person-to-be added or vice versa and the occupancy position of the flat etc. If such addition is considered not acceptable, but there is a genuine need for the person-to-be-added to stay in the flat temporarily to look after the elderly tenant, temporary stay may be granted with duration depending on individual circumstances.


4. There has been some criticism against the Housing Authority (HA) for adopting a double standard as addition of tenant's adult children and other supporting/dependent relatives is discretionary whilst inclusion of second generation families under the one-line continuation of the family is generally allowed. The accusation is purely a misconception. There are fundamental differences between these two categories of addition. In the latter cases, the married child is an authorized PRH occupant while in the former, the person-to-be-added is not registered in the PRH tenancy. In order to avoid an inequitable situation whereby persons so added can by-pass the normal channel in gaining access to PRH, the requirement to establish an absolute need of the elderly tenant concerned for the addition is considered appropriate. The existing practice has already taken into account the interest of the elderly tenant concerned on the one hand while an equitable allocation of public housing resources is maintained on the other.

Housing Department's View

5. If the current policy is to be relaxed, it will not only encourage more people to come forward to apply for addition, thereby creating an undesirable situation where not only the added persons could obtain priority access to PRH, but also lead to subsequent additional demand for additional public housing resources on grounds such as overcrowding, requests for splitting etc. at a later stage. However, in order to increase transparency in management practices and to further enhance consistency in the granting of such approvals, the Housing Department is conducting a detailed review on the current criteria for the processing of applications in respect of addition of persons on special grounds.

6. For Members' information, a copy of the Department's recent response to the South China Morning Post on the issue is at the Annex.


7. According to the current allocation standard, one-person and two-person households will be allocated small units with internal floor areas of about 16m2 in harmony blocks. Where situation permits, 2-person flats of 22m2 are built for allocation to 2-person elderly households.

Design and Layout of Flats

8. The HAalways monitors feedback from elderly residents with a view to improving the flat design to cope with their needs. Specifically, the following facilities are now provided in the units for elderly households -

  1. shower seat in the bathroom;

  2. handrail in the bathroom;

  3. drying rack with movable laundry strings; and

  4. special facilities needed by wheelchair bound elderly.

9. The following improvement items are also being considered -

  1. a longer bench in the kitchen for a double stove;

  2. repositioning of the door of the toilet to avoid blocking by the main door; and

  3. increase in the size of the toilet.

10. The HAhas recently endorsed improvements to the design of standard Harmony Blocks to meet the changing needs of elderly tenants. Such improvements include -

  1. increasing the size of 1-2 person flats from 16.32m2 to 17.09m2 to provide sufficient space for two single beds and to allow more manoeuvring space in the bathroom; and

  2. introducing a new type of flats for 2-3 person households with an internal floor area of 21.69m2.

Housing Department
February 1999