Ms Dora Chan, Principal Lecturer and Mr Edmund Cham, Adjunct Associate Professor of the Faculty of Law, the University of Hong Kong (“HKU”) and a team of students have prepared an “E-package of DIY Residential Tenancy Agreement“(“E-Package”) to provide the public with free and easy access to a residential tenancy agreement template and a set of guidance notes on the stamping, registration and filing of Form CR 109 for a residential tenancy agreement. By using the template and the guidelines, members of the public may independently enter into a tenancy agreement for their residential homes without the costs and trouble of engaging a lawyer or an estate agent.
The 2016 Population By-census revealed that 47% of households living in private permanent housing are tenants, with a median monthly rent of $10,000. Many landlords and tenants may not want to engage a lawyer to prepare a residential tenancy agreement as it can be costly and time consuming. Many of them simply buy a sample tenancy agreement from a stationery shop or download one from the internet, which are not satisfactory as these documents are not prepared and reviewed by persons competent in tenancy law. In one of the stationery shop samples, one of the clauses refers to a legislation in 1952 which had been repealed and some of the terms used in samples are archaic. If the public uses inappropriate tenancy samples for renting their residential homes, it may result in disputes and problems between the landlord and tenant which can seriously affect their daily lives.
To address this problem, Ms Chan, who practiced as a property lawyer in an international law firm and as a government counsel for the Land Registry and the Department of Justice, together with Mr Cham, who has extensive experience and expertise in drafting and translating legal documents and who has been regularly engaged in translating English judgements into Chinese for the Judiciary, led a team of law students to prepare the E-package.
The bilingual E-package consists of a tenancy agreement template and a set of guidance notes on how to enter into a valid residential tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement template contains typical terms governing the rights and liabilities of the landlord and the tenant. Users of the E-package only need to fill in essential information such as the names of the parties, rent and term of the tenancy and they can quickly and easily prepare a proper residential tenancy agreement that would suit their situation.
The guidance notes provide a set of consolidated guidelines on the steps that the parties should take after the signing of a residential tenancy agreement in order to satisfy the legislative requirements on a residential tenancy agreement. Currently there is no single consolidated guidelines on how to stamp and register a tenancy agreement. The public would have to retrieve information and forms in a piece-meal and time-consuming manner from various Government websites. Failure or delay to stamp or register a tenancy agreement may result in the tenancy agreement being not enforceable and the parties may have to pay up to a maximum of 10 times of the original amount of stamp duty. The guidance notes provide one single document setting out the necessary steps and useful links to the Government websites where the public can retrieve relevant forms, as well as check fees payable, office addresses and opening hours of different Government departments. The public can easily follow the steps in the notes to properly and timely stamp and register their residential tenancy agreement.
The E-package is now available to the public free of charge from the HKU CLIC website (www.clic.org.hk/en/topics/DIY_Residential_Tenancy_Agreement).