In light of the increasing demand for public rental housing (PRH), we have dedicated much effort on housing development on one hand, and safeguarding the rational and effective use of our existing resources on the other hand. In this regard, besides the biennial inspection on existing PRH flats, the Housing Department conducts intensive checking on suspected cases of income and assets declaration, carries out rigorous investigation on reports of suspected tenancy abuse, and checks the occupancy positions of PRH flats by random selection. Recently, media reports revealed that certain online travel agency platform had been offering rental accommodation which was suspected to be PRH flats. In response, our colleagues took immediate action to proactively investigate the matter and contacted the agency concerned to follow up the situation. Should the case be substantiated, we shall certainly take enforcement action in accordance with the relevant tenancy clauses.
I understand that obtaining the cooperation of residents and relevant government departments is essential during investigation irrespective of whether it is a case of flat visit or requesting information on the occupancy position. Furthermore, when gathering evidence, our colleagues have to fully understand various regulations such as legislation on privacy and anti-discrimination etc, and have to carefully follow relevant procedures according to the departmental guidelines. This is in particular the case when handling different types of applications for referral and transfer. The colleagues concerned have to give due regard to every special ground in order to suitably exercise discretion, with emphasis on both reason and compassion as far as practicable. Also the follow-up actions after investigation, like the issue of Notice-To-Quit and the handling of appeal, are no simple matter, as each action is subject to its own specified time limit. Sometimes, the residents concerned are not cooperative or may even get emotional over the matter. So it is no wonder that our colleagues are under great pressure.
To enable our colleagues to carry out their work more smoothly, we have launched various publicity programmes and outreaching activities to increase public awareness that PRH is a precious resource. These include visits to Estate Management Advisory Committees to promote the cherishing of PRH resources and road shows using a promotion truck with exhibition panels and games to tour around different districts to strengthen the deterrent effect and encourage reporting of abuse cases. It is hoped that with the concerted efforts of our colleagues, we can utilise our precious PRH resources effectively.
Seeing that Chinese New Year is approaching, I wish all of you good health and happiness and the best of luck in the Year of the Pig.
Director of Housing