The rental market in Hong Kong differs greatly from area to area, quoted prices often vary wildly for similar apartments, and there are no tenancy protections written into law.

To an Expat looking to rent their first property in Hong Kong this can be anywhere from confusing to downright risky, especially if you sign something you should not, or be led astray somehow.

Below are 5 things you need to know that will help you get started.

Property Management Services. Property management, where you pay rent to a real estate agency, is rare in residential real estate in Hong Kong. On signing the final rental contract, you will deal directly with the property owner or their employee. This leads to some apartments renting direct owner to save on commission.

Provisional Lease Agreement. The majority of rental properties go through a real estate agency. Rental agents survive on commission quoted as one-half the monthly rent from both the tenant and property owner. The provisional lease agreement will be signed by all 3 parties: tenant, landlord, and agent but there is nothing provisional about it. You should have all negotiations and the contract complete before signing it.

2 year lease. The normal length for a residential lease contract is 2 years. After 1 year the tenant should have the option to terminate after giving 2 months notice.

Rental Contracts. As noted previously there are no tenancy protections under Hong Kong law. This means that all protections that you want during your tenancy must be written into the contract you sign with the property owner.

Gross floor area. Apartments are sold and rented by quoting gross floor area. This includes a share of the common areas of the building such as lifts, garbage disposal, stairs and passageways. If you are wondering why a 500 square foot apartment seems a little small, you might inquire as to its net floor area, rather than the gross floor area.

Truth is there is nothing to be worried about as long you inform yourself beforehand. With no legal protections apart from your contract, learning how the Hong Kong rental market works is in your own best interests.

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