Information Paper for Legislative Council
Panel on Housing

Residence requirement for allocation of public rental housing
flats to Waiting List applicants


This paper describes the seven year residence rule for allocation of public rental housing flats to Waiting List applicants.


2. The seven year residence rule was introduced in 1979. Its purpose is to accord priority to applicants who are long-term residents in Hong Kong, taking into account the limitations on public housing resources.

3. Apart from other eligibility criteria, households applying for public rental housing through the Waiting List must satisfy the residence rule before they can be allocated flats. More specifically -

  1. single person households. Applicants must have lived in Hong Kong for seven years;

  2. two person households. Both members of non-elderly households must have lived in Hong Kong for seven years. For elderly couples aged over 60, only one member is required to satisfy the seven-year residence rule; and

  3. households with three or more persons. Over 50% of household members including the applicant must have lived in Hong Kong for seven years.

4. All locally born children, regardless of age, are considered as having met the residence qualification provided at least one parent satisfies the residence requirement rule.

5. New arrivals who are dependants of applicants already on the Waiting List can be included as family members, but allocation of a flat is subject to the majority of the family members having met the seven year residence rule. Those who are dependants of existing tenants, e.g. spouses and unmarried children below the age of 18, are allowed to join their families in public rental housing and interim housing. Where this results in overcrowded living conditions, these households can apply for transfer to larger flats. In the same way, new arrivals can also take residence in Home Ownership Scheme or Sandwich Class Housing flats, if they are dependants of the owners.

Compassionate Rehousing

6. In implementing the residence rule, the Housing Department exercises flexibility in dealing with cases genuinely deserving of compassionate rehousing on medical or social grounds, upon the recommendation of the Social Welfare Department (SWD). Applicants who are recommended by SWD for rehousing through Compassionate Rehousing must normally fulfil the seven year residence rule. However, consideration may be given to waiving this rule in individual cases upon SWD's recommendation.

Latest position

7. The Government is aware of the long-term housing needs of new arrivals from the Mainland of China. As the demand for public rental housing continues to grow, we do not at present intend to change the seven year residence rule, which accords a higher priority to long-term residents. New arrivals are encouraged to register on the Waiting List so that their applications can be considered once they have fulfilled all eligibility criteria.

Housing Department
March 1999