Homeowners' Obligations

Owning a home entails public and private obligations. Here you can learn about the Government charges for which you are liable as a homeowner and the ways in which you are obliged to maintain your home.

Rates and Government Rent

The two important Government charges for homeowners are rates and Government rent.

Rates are charged on the occupation of property at a percentage of the rateable value, which is the estimated annual rental value of the property at a designated date, assuming it was then vacant and to let, regardless of whether or not it was actually occupied. Rates are payable quarterly in advance. Rateable values are reviewed annually to reflect the current state of the housing market.

Government Rent
Government rent is levied on property owners under their land leases from the Government and is chargeable whether or not the property is occupied. Depending on the type of land lease under which the property is held, Government rent charged on a property may be a fixed amount or may vary with changes in the rateable value of the property.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of Government rent:

  1. Government rent under the Government Rent (Assessment and Collection) Ordinance (Cap. 515), collected by the Rating and Valuation Department;
  2. Government rent payable under other ordinances / Original Government Rent payable for properties exempted from liability to pay new rent under Cap. 515, collected by the Lands Department.
More on Rates and Government Rent

Water and Sewage Charges

As a homeowner, you are also obliged to pay water and sewage charges. Domestic water charges for domestic accounts are levied every 4 months and based on meter readings, with the first 12 cubic metres of water provided free of charge.

Sewage charges are levied if your home is connected to a public sewage system and are based on the amount of water supplied. Again the first 12 cubic metres are not charged.

Details of water and sewage charges, including calculation examples

Property Tax and Stamp Duty

If you sell your home or sign a tenancy agreement to lease a domestic property, both you and the tenant will be liable to pay Stamp Duty.

More on Stamp Duty

If you own a property from which you gain rental income, you will also be obliged to pay property tax. More information on property tax rates, calculation examples and other requirements is available on the following links.

More on property taxProperty tax rates

Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety

Given the density of housing in most parts of Hong Kong, ensuring that your home is safe against fire will protect both you and your neighbours. Fire safety measures are easy to implement in your home. Here are some tips for you:

  • be cautious when and where open flames, cigarettes or heating devices (including irons) are in use;
  • prepare with your family a detailed emergency exit route in case of fire and always keep it free from obstruction
  • familiarise yourself with the fire fighting equipment provided in your building and ensure that they are properly maintained.
More on fire prevention measures for your home (pdf file)More on what to do in case of fire (pdf file)

You should also be cautious about the use of electricity in your home, especially when using appliances. It is important to remember to:

  • buy those electrical appliances that meet local safety requirements;
  • use them properly and maintain them appropriately;
  • hire a registered electrical contractor to carry out periodic inspections and maintenance, and to ensure that no illegal additions or alterations have been made.
More on household electrical safety

Home Maintenance and Repairs

General maintenance and repairs around your home is also important for your safety and that of others. The following link will provide tips on keeping your property in good condition, and on applying for financial assistance for home maintenance and repairs.

More on home maintenance

Appointment of Registered Contractors

The appointment of registered contractors is vital to ensuring that maintenance and repairs are carried out appropriately to meet the statutory requirements. In particular, you should always hire a registered contractor for work in the following areas:

  • aluminium windows
  • drainage or plumbing
  • water taps and piping
  • flushing systems
  • electrical works

List of registered contractors are available on the following link.

Lists of registered contractorsSearch for registered electrical contractors
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Last review date: April 2021
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