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Published: 13:09, December 08, 2023 | Updated: 17:23, December 08, 2023
New HK bill doubles lead time for govt land lease extension
By Wang Zhan
Published:13:09, December 08, 2023 Updated:17:23, December 08, 2023 By Wang Zhan

Visitors walk on the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade in the West Kowloon Cultural District on June 14, 2022. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG – A new bill on the extension of government leases will require the Director of Lands of Hong Kong to issue its decision on the lease extension at least six years before the expiry of each batch of leases, raising it from the current three years.

The Development Bureau published the Extension of Government Leases Bill on Thursday. 

A gazette on this is expected to be published on Friday. The bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council for first reading on Dec 13, the government said in a statement.

The bill provides that the Director of Lands must publish an "Extension Notice" and a "Non-extension List" in the Gazette no less than six years before the expiry of each batch of leases, it said. 

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Existing provisions in the leases will be retained upon extension, with additional conditions that the lease will be extended for a term of 50 years, without payment of any additional premium for the extension itself, but subject to payment of annual rent annually adjusted and assessed according to the rateable value of the property.  All interests, encumbrances and rights under the original lease will be carried forward.

The new mechanism for extension of leases will bring about significant facilitation for both the public and businesses.

Spokesperson, Development Bureau, HKSAR

The Development Bureau briefed the LegCo Panel on Development on the legislative proposal in May this year and thereafter engaged relevant professional bodies and stakeholders. It later refined the operational details on the basis of the views received, including doubling the lead time for publishing the extension notice to no less than six years before lease expiry. 

“This has positively responded to stakeholders' concern for earlier certainty on extension of leases while striking an appropriate balance with the need for the government to consider whether to allow extension for a lease closer to the time of lease expiry,” reads the statement.

The bill also provides that lease extension of properties owned by consular missions and the representative offices of international organizations enjoying privileges and immunities and used as chancelleries or residences of heads of missions and mission staff is subject to prior approval of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region besides government approval.

If the property concerned is an individual unit in a multi-storey building, the requirement will only apply to the relevant property unit, without affecting other units in the same building, the statement added.

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“The bill maintains and operates under the 1997 Land Policy, and what is changed by the legislative exercise is only the means through which leases will be extended – extension will be effected by publication of notices in the Gazette, instead of execution of individual new leases by the government with the owners,” said a spokesperson for the Development Bureau.

This ensures that the considerable number of upcoming expiring leases could be handled in an efficient and orderly manner, the spokesman said, adding: “The new mechanism for extension of leases will bring about significant facilitation for both the public and businesses.”

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