How To Rent in Hong Kong – Renting Agreements

5 min read|Last Updated: September 21, 2023|

Mastering Tenancy and Lease Agreements: Your Guide to Renting in Hong Kong

To rent is to have a legally binding contractual arrangement that grants an individual, organization, or entity the right to occupy and use a property owned by another party for a specified period.

Residential and commercial rent encompassing industrial premises, office spaces, retail establishments, and hotels are typically regulated by the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance, as well as the Land Registration Ordinance and the Occupiers’ Liability Ordinance.

Lease vs Tenancy

Although “Tenancy Agreement” and “Lease” are used interchangeably a lot, there is a nuanced legal distinctions in meaning despite their general enforceability in Court. Hence, you will need to choose between a Lease and Tenancy according to your renting needs. The differences are illustrated in the table below:

Aspect Lease Tenancy Agreement
Duration More than 3 years Not exceeding 3 years
Registration May or may not be registered. Required to be registered at Land Registry.
Stamp Affix red seal next to signatures chop/rubber stamp and signature
form CR 109 Not required for domestic properties. Required for domestic properties.
Bank Consent Bank’s consent not needed. Bank’s consent may be required
Interest in the Land Lessee has a legal interest in the land Tenant has a legal interest if certain conditions are met
Protection Against Third Parties Lessee’s rights protected if lease registered under LRO Tenant’s interest protected without registration under certain conditions
Options to Renew/Purchase Registration binds option against third party Option must be registered for enforcement
Enforcement Against New Owner Lease enforceable against new owner if registered Tenant’s interest protected against new owner without registration under certain conditions


Alternatively, a licence offers permission to occupy a property without conferring exclusive possession or a proprietary interest. Unlike a lease, a licensee does not hold any proprietary claim and lacks the right to exclusive possession.

Moreover, licences are usually not transferable to third parties and do not bind successors in title of the licensor. Occupancy periods under a licence need not be fixed and don’t establish any vested interest in the property.

Hence, those who rent will more commonly seek for a lease or tenancy.

How To Rent A Property In Hong Kong

Here is a Step-by-Step Guide to Renting a Property in Hong Kong:

  • Consultation:
    The process begins with the client discussing their leasing needs with a consultant. The consultant compiles a list of suitable properties that match the client’s requirements.

  • Viewing:
    Viewing appointments are arranged to allow the client to assess the properties in person.

  • Negotiation & Offer:
    If the client finds a property they like, they submit a verbal or formal offer to the landlord. If needed, negotiations take place between the tenant and landlord to finalize the renting terms.

  • Lease/ Tenancy Agreement:
    Once agreeable terms have been reached, a comprehensive lease or tenancy agreement is prepared and signed by both parties, solidifying the terms. The lessee tenant will need to pay a security deposit (usually rent of 1-3 months), agency consultation fee, and stamp duty.
  • Property Handover:
    The property is handed over to the tenant either at the start of the lease or an agreed early possession date.

Required Documentation

Before finalizing the lease or tenancy agreement and securing a rental property, you will usually be asked for the following documents:

  • A copy of your passport and Hong Kong ID (if applicable)

  • A copy of Valid working permit

  • A copy of your Employment letter and contract (if applicable)

  • Your Bank account details

Need assistance with getting a working permit in Hong Kong? Get more information about Working Visa and our services here.

Things to Consider When Renting a Property in Hong Kong

Rent and other Payment

The renting agreement outlines the rent fees, excluding management fees and rates. It’s crucial to specify the payment schedule (usually monthly) and method (check, cash, or bank transfer). Notably, eviction proceedings can be initiated if rent is overdue by more than 15 days or consistent delays occur.

Break Clause

The presence of a “break clause” in the agreement indicates the possibility of termination under specific circumstances. After the first year, termination is feasible with one or two months’ notice.

Security Deposit

A security deposit, equivalent to two to three months’ rent, is held by the landlord during the lease or tenancy. It’s returned within 7 to 14 days after fulfilling obligations and returning the property in proper condition.

Stamp Duty

Stamp duty must be paid on tenancy agreements or leases as per the Stamp Duty Ordinance (Cap. 117). Failure to properly stamp a tenancy agreement or lease renders it unregistrable at the Land Registry and inadmissible as evidence in court for enforcement.

The stamp duty amount is based on prevailing rates, lease duration, and tenant’s rent payments: If the term is not over one year: Stamp duty is 0.25% of monthly rent multiplied by the number of months.

If the term is over one year but within three years: Stamp duty is 0.5% of the average yearly rent. If the term exceeds three years: Stamp duty is 1% of the average yearly rent.

Management Fees

In addition to rent, management fees encompass maintenance, security, and amenity upkeep. Fees may increase with more extensive amenities. The agreement should explicitly state which party bears the responsibility of payment.

Government Rates

Government rates, typically 5% of the rental amount, are often passed onto tenants by landlords. These charges are billed quarterly in advance, and payment responsibility is indicated in the agreement.


Unless otherwise noted, tenants are accountable for utility costs such as phone, gas, and electricity. Negotiations may incorporate these expenses into the contract terms.

Maintenance and Repairs

The agreement outlines whether the landlord or tenant is accountable for property maintenance. A comprehensive inspection is advised, highlighting issues like water pressure and electrical points, with any concerns reported to the landlord.


A detailed inventory of leased furniture and appliances is crucial. While some appliances may be included (e.g., stovetops, refrigerators, washing machines), others may not be part of the arrangement.

Renewal Option

Upon expiration of the lease or tenancy, the owner of the property will have the right to renew at the prevailing market rental rate. If a renewal option clause exists in the agreement, the tenant/ lessee’s renewal rights are preserved.


The landlord communicates property insurance coverage to the tenant. Lease terms may necessitate the tenant to cover extra premiums arising from their actions.

How To Rent in Hong Kong – Renting Agreements FAQs

If I’m considering renting a property, how can I ensure that I do not fall victim to scams?2023-09-08T10:30:43+00:00

To safeguard yourself, the Land Registry offers a “Land Search” service accessible to the public. Through this service, you can verify the ownership details of any property in Hong Kong. It is strongly recommended that before finalizing any tenancy agreement, prospective tenants conduct a land search to confirm ownership.

How can I ensure that I do not fall victim to scams when I’m using a real estate agent or a solicitor firm to help me with the rental process?2023-09-08T10:29:49+00:00

If you’re working with an estate agent or have engaged a solicitor firm, they typically have a responsibility to ensure your interests are protected. As part of their duty, they should conduct a land search on your behalf to verify the property’s ownership details before you proceed with any rental arrangements. This helps prevent potential scams and protects your rights as a tenant.

What are the implications when a landlord asks the lessee/ tenant to sign a documents such as “agreement for lease” or “provisional tenancy agreement” before formalizing a tenancy agreement or lease?2023-09-08T10:28:35+00:00

The “agreement for lease” or “provisional tenancy agreement” serves as a preliminary step that an intending landlord and an intending tenant can take before finalizing the actual lease or tenancy agreement. Upon signing this document, both parties commit to a future lease arrangement.

What legal requirements must a lease agreement or tenancy agreement satisfy to be considered valid?2023-09-08T10:25:58+00:00

Just like any other contract, a lease agreement or tenancy agreement must meet specific criteria, such as offer, acceptance, consideration intention to be legally bound and more. Certain key details must be clearly defined, such as the names of the parties, the property’s name and address, lease commencement date, lease duration, rent, and other considerations.

What happens if one party “agreement for lease” or “provisional tenancy agreement” but later refuses to sign the formal lease or tenancy agreement?2023-09-08T10:24:18+00:00

When the agreement for lease/provisional tenancy agreement is signed and one party refuses to sign the final lease or tenancy agreement, the other party can seek legal action applying for an order of specific performance from the court, so that the obligations upheld in the agreement will be upheld.

As a foreigner, do I need a Hong Kong Bank account before signing a rent agreement?2023-09-08T10:21:57+00:00

When engaging in lease negotiations, tenants are required to hold a Hong Kong-based bank account, a process that often involves a certain duration for setup. Given that landlords usually request an upfront deposit amounting to two to three months’ rent, along with the necessity of funds for establishing fresh utility accounts, covering stamp duty, and meeting agency fees, tenants must ensure they possess adequate funds to cater to this initial financial commitment.

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