Renting in Hong Kong Explained for Expats

With only 427 square miles, this city is home to over 7.3 million people, making it one of the most densely populated and most expensive locations in the world. Hong Kong is a major financial center, home to many international companies, and with its mix of English and Cantonese speakers, it is the perfect mix of east meets west. It is no wonder why so many million expats continue to choose to make this beautiful harbor city their home every year. Homes in Hong Kong can range from cramped accommodations to high-end apartments and even rare houses in select locations. If you know where to look, you will be sure to find your perfect fit and home.


Where to Live

Historically, the Mid-Levels was the main choice for expats, with its beautiful vistas and strong business sector. However, nowadays you can find expats choosing to live along the Island MTR line for cheaper rents and expat families preferring family homes by the beach in Stanley or Repulse Bay.


What you need

Here are some documents you will require before signing your tenancy agreement and settling on a property to rent:

       A copy of your passport and Hong Kong ID, if you have one
       Valid working permit
       Employment letter & contract
       A bank account


Average Rent Prices

       1-bedroom apartment in city center – 17,230.77 HKD
       1-bedroom apartment outside of center - 12,294.12 HKD
       3-bedroom apartment in city center – 35,718.31 HKD
       3-bedroom apartment outside of center - 23,394.37 HKD


How to Find an Apartment in Hong Kong

Hong Kong apartments for rent can vary between standard or serviced apartments, furnished and inclusive of utilities and other commodities such as gyms, but this normally comes with a higher price tag. Standard apartments are usually unfurnished or only partly furnished.


You can find apartments online, at classified sections of the local newspaper, or through a residential real estate agent. As a foreigner who is looking to rent in Hong Kong, your best bet is to hire a licensed real estate agent, especially if you are not familiar with Hong Kong’s housing market or not fluent in Chinese/Cantonese.


If you are on the search for Hong Kong property or apartments for sale, luxury homes or mansions, then look no further than Engle & Volkers Hong Kong. Simplify your real estate agent search and get in touch with the best real estate agents in Hong Kong by visiting and contacting Engle & Volkers's local or international real estate agents.


Important Things to Know When Renting in Hong Kong

       Check the land registry to see if there is a mortgage on the property and whether the mortgagee has agreed to lease the property. If you rent a property without the mortgagee’s consent, you make be evicted on short notice.
       If something seems untrustworthy or you are skeptical about a property or landlord, you can hire a lawyer to investigate the offer for you. Expected are often subject for fraud because they tend to be unfamiliar with local customs and procedures.
       If you are searching for a place to rent without a property estate agent, do research on the landlord since expats who have had bad experiences will likely share their experiences in blogs or expat forums.
       Look at the property you are about to rent in person before you sign or make a deposit. Pictures can be extremely misleading. It is also safer to meet with the landlord to get an idea of what your tenancy agreement will look like.
       You should be aware the tenancy agreements are usually limited to two or three years and can be renewed if you and your landlord want to continue the tenancy after that time.
       If your landlord sells the property during your stay, you do not need to worry in most cases as your tenancy agreement will still be valid. However, you should find out whether the old or new owner is responsible for you as a tenant.
       You will likely need to be responsible for your own utilities, but luckily there are only a few utility companies in Hong Kong, and they can get you settle easily.


Rental Procedure

After you find a place you want to settle down, you can start negotiations with the landlord. This is when you will discuss your tenancy agreement, including the length of your stay and who will be responsible for the payment of utility bills.


If you are being helped by a real estate agent, you would sign the provisional tenancy agreement at this time. Then you and your landlord’s solicitors can look into this contract and amend it to suit both parties. Once you have settled on the rental contract, you will pay the deposit (which is usually worth 1 month’s rent) and sign the formal tenancy agreement. Afterwards, your landlord will also sign, and have you fill out a letting notice.


Leasing properties in Hong Kong will also require you to pay a stamp duty tax. For those unfamiliar with the term, a stamp duty is a tax that governments place on legal documents, usually in the transfer of assets or properties. The stamp rates for leases are as follows:
*the yearly rent/average yearly rent/total rent has to be rounded-up to the nearest $100.