Renting Negotiations

Information about the negotiations involved when renting a house or apartment in Hong Kong...

Apartment buildings vary in terms of amenities, age and size. Some luxury buildings may provide covered parking spaces, 24-hour security, swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts, clubhouses and even restaurants. At the other end of the spectrum are older, low-rise buildings with basic services.

While some apartments include appliances such as refrigerators, ranges with ovens and washers/dryers, others may provide only the basic range tops without ovens. If the landlord is willing, the tenant can ask the landlord to provide certain appliances and fixtures or opt for a discount in the monthly rent.

Every part of a rental lease is negotiable, so read all clauses carefully to rule out unusual terms like a very early break clause or being financially responsible for normal wear and tear.

Rental prices can usually be negotiated unless specified by the landlord. Monthly rental prices will be listed as either inclusive or exclusive.

  • Inclusive: the total monthly rent which includes monthly management fees and government rates
  • Exclusive: management fees and government rates have not been factored in and must be calculated in order to determine the total monthly rent rate.

The majority of people renting in Hong Kong will negotiate a fully inclusive rental agreement.

Once the tenant and landlord agree to the rental terms verbally, the tenant will generally sign an "offer letter" to put a stake on the property. This contains most of the basic contract guidelines. The landlord will come back with a "counteroffer" letter or sign the original "offer letter".

The deposit

A holding deposit of one month's rent is given to a third party (for example the rental agent) for safekeeping until the final and formal contract is signed. That deposit will then be taken by the landlord and used as the first month's rent.

In addition to the holding deposit, landlords require a security deposit with the final contract. Security deposits are generally two months' rent but some landlords can request as much as three or more months' rent.

Pets

Not all apartment buildings allow pets; if relevant, check with the landlord before signing the rental agreement.