Everything You Need To Know Before Renting in Hong Kong

Hong Kong May 12, 2022

Need some help in finding your ideal rental apartment? The trick is in gathering all the information you need. Here are some guiding points to help you in your journey to rent an apartment in Hong Kong.

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak and political developments in Hong Kong, the city remains one of the world’s most expensive cities to live and rent property. Government land usage regulations have contributed to scarce floorspace and sky-high prices when purchasing property thus, contributing to the preference in renting apartments in Hong Kong.

Accommodation options in Hong Kong range from bare bone small rooms to luxurious apartments with state-of-the-art amenities. Houses or bungalows are not as common here as in other parts of the world due to land scarcity. Having said that, Hong Kong offers an array of rental apartments in high-rise buildings that cater to the local and expat markets.

So, whether you're a local with plans to move out of your family home, or an expat relocating to Hong Kong, it's totally possible to land a dream rental home in Hong Kong that's accessible, convenient and homely at the same time. But only if you do the homework and gather all the information you need beforehand!

To get you started, here are some tips to gather everything you need to know before renting an apartment in Hong Kong.

Decide on location

Start from a macro perspective and consider the possible areas where you could rent your apartment. By that we mean, areas like the New Territories, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

If you prefer a more laid-back, verdant and peaceful environment, the New Territories with nearby Lantau Island might be appealing. E.g. the Discovery Bay area is great for those with family as it is near the beach with family-centric amenities all around.

For those who would like to experience the local culture, Kowloon would be ideal. Home to a large proportion of Hong Kong’s immigrant, working class and elderly population, South Kowloon is a historic area that offers delectable local street eats and is accessible from Tsim Sha Tsui and Central. However, if you have an open budget and can afford to splurge on some high-end accommodation near the heart of the financial district, Hong Kong Island is where you should set your sights on. Live in gorgeous residences at Mid-Levels or the Peak that provide stunning views of Victoria Harbour.

Living room in Hmlet Tsui Wah Building in Sai Ying Pun

Are you a young professional or millennial? Well, the trendy neighbourhoods of Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town might entice you. Do note that while flats in these areas tend to be slightly cramped and located in older buildings, rent can still be expensive given their proximity to Central.

Regular room in Hmlet Tsui Wah Building in Sai Ying Pun

If you are more budget-savvy and are fluent in Cantonese, the Eastern part of Hong Kong Island (including places like Fortress Hill and North Point) might interest you as these neighbourhoods are not expat-heavy and also where you can experience the real Hong Kong.

Narrow your options based on budget

Generally, the minimum monthly rent most people provision for is around HK$5,000. That being said, be prepared to set aside HK$10,000 for a studio apartment or sometimes a decent room in a shared flat. On the higher end of the spectrum, the priciest studios and apartments can cost you at least HK$60,000 per month (yikes!).

Remember to also consider what comes with your rent. For example, Hmlet Hong Kong offers stylishly designed, fully-furnished apartments with work from home set up that could actually be worth the rent. Plus with Hmlet, you also have dedicated Member Experience Managers you can go to for any issues during your stay for a peace of mind. It's important to not look at the rental numbers in isolation.

How to search for an apartment

If you are not familiar with the rental market in Hong Kong and do not speak Chinese or Cantonese, you can consider hiring a licensed real estate agent to help you navigate the rental landscape. Opting for this route would mean you'd have to set aside an agent fee fund. Commission fees usually amount to one month’s rent. Sometimes, your landlord might pay half of the commission fees, so it is best to clarify before starting on the search process.

If you are a foreigner and have decided to skip the middleman and instead find a rental apartment in Hong Kong online, consider sites like GeoExpat and AsiaXpat. Locals and foreigners also use GoHome for rental options in the various neighbourhoods in the city. You can find more options in our guide on finding an apartment in Hong Kong.

Rental lease and security deposit

As a rule of thumb, a rental lease in Hong Kong lasts for two years. The tenancy contract can include a break clause permitting either party to terminate the contract after one year with written notice submitted two to three months in advance. If you are looking for shorter term rental leases, your options are limited to serviced apartments, Airbnb or Hmlet. We offer a minimum of 1 month stay with an option to renew or extend your contract.

Before you sign any contract, remember that the devil is in the details. Pay attention to clauses on whether you are permitted to keep pets or to sublet. For most rentals, you will have to set aside money to pay the security deposit (usually amounting to two months’ rent) as well as an advance rent for one month before you can move in. Clarify with your landlord if the government taxes on rental properties are included in the quoted rent or otherwise.

To add, avoid the risk of being evicted upon short notice by checking the Hong Kong land registry if there is a mortgage on the property you have decided to rent. This is because if you are renting a property without the mortgagee’s permission, you run the risk of eviction.

At Hmlet, you'll find that some of our properties are available for short-term stays, pet-friendly and that we only require a 1 month deposit.

Animal friends are welcome at select Hmlet homes.

Should you be a Hmlet Member?

If you are wary of the prospect that you might have to deal with nasty landlords, fork out a high upfront cost (due to agent fees, security deposits and the likes) or just value peace of mind, you've come to the right place.

  1. Customised comfort
    Full furnishings, seamless housekeeping services and endless Wi-Fi add up to a home you’ve always wanted.
  2. Flexibility is everything
    Live flexibly with a minimum stay of just 1 month, and transfer to any of our homes in other areas or cities whenever you wish.
  3. Community you'll love
    Fit right in with our dynamic like-minded community, and bond through a variety of Hmlet-curated exciting events.


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