Only Locals Look For These 7 Things Before Renting in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Mar 3, 2022

This is your handy check-list to navigate your way through Hong Kong's rental world like a local.

It is quite common to feel overwhelmed when trying to look for a rental apartment in Hong Kong for the first time, especially if you're new to the country. Not only are the sizes so much smaller than everywhere else in the world, they are also very expensive!

But beyond just price and size, there are details that people often overlook that could really turn into rental nightmares. It's true what they say in this case, the devil is in the details. Here are a few local nuances you should take into consideration before sealing the deal on your rental home in Hong Kong.

1. Building Age

When looking for a rental apartment in Hong Kong, it is crucial to do some research on the age of the building and make some comparisons. Knowing the building age matters because it is a key indication of the building's infrastructure, which can have an impact on various elements. These may include water pressure, Wi-Fi speed, exterior facade, the type of elevators (or in some cases, the lack of!), and many more.

While older apartments may come with its own unique set of problems, it could also be used as a point for price negotiation. If you are lucky, you might just find the best deal in these older buildings, winning a bigger space while paying less per square footage!

2. Gross vs Net Area

Unlike other countries, Hong Kong properties are measured not only by net area but also gross area. When speaking to a real estate agent about the size of your apartment, do ensure that each party is referring to the same figure — be it net or gross area.

Generally speaking, gross area refers to areas not only within your apartment but also the shared spaces of the common areas within your floor. This could include toilets, lift lobby, staircases, and plant room. As such, the number that you should focus more on is the net area, because this indicates the usable area within your premises.

3. Elevator vs Walk-Up

Don't get too excited when you see an advertisement for an ultra affordable and super spacious apartment in Sai Ying Pun or Sheung Wan that just seems too good to be true.

More often than not, these apartments are in walk-up buildings which could be up to 7th stories high! Before signing the lease, ask yourself if you will still enjoy the apartment in the summertime or after a big grocery shopping trip. Not to mention, picking-up parcels or food delivery will be treacherous after a long day at work. However, if the deal still sounds too good to be missed, then cheers to the extra cardio workout!

4. Air Conditioning Type

There are two main types of air conditioning (AC) in Hong Kong apartments, the split type and the window type. The split-unit AC comes in two-parts and perhaps the one we most commonly see. It has an indoor machine that generates cool air into the room and an outdoor condensing unit. With this type of AC, an outdoor balcony or bracket is required for the condensing unit, which not all properties in Hong Kong have.

On the other hand, the window type AC looks like a small box that contains the condensing unit within itself. This type is commonly found in older Hong Kong buildings and are installed directly into the window frame. The advantage of this type of AC is that it is generally cheaper and relatively easier to install, clean, and maintain. However, it makes more noise than the split-unit AC and might not be suitable for light sleepers or those with young infants.

An example of window type AC in Hmlet Swatow Street

5. Bed Sizes

We are all familiar with single, double, queen and king-sized beds. However, in Hong Kong, these categories are further broken down, resulting in over 10 different sizes to accommodate all types of space. The width of the bed could range from 91cm to 183cm and the length from 183cm to 203cm.

As beds and mattresses are expensive items that are troublesome to move around or dispose of, it is worth taking the time to make sure that you get the right bed size for your apartment.

Custom bed in Regular room, Hmlet Mui Fong Apartments 

6. Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty is an official document legally required between the landlord and the tenant upon signing the lease agreement so that the government is informed to collect tax from the landlord’s rental income. In most situations, Stamp Duty is usually shared between the landlord and the tenant.

To prevent late application penalty, stamp duty must be paid within 30 days of the lease start date. This can be done online, by post or in-person at the Stamp Duty Office of the Inland Revenue Department. To ensure that you are still working within a comfortable rent budget, be sure to discuss this with your landlord before signing the lease.

7. Standard Deposit and Lease Term

In Hong Kong, the standard deposit is 2 months worth of rent, and the standard lease term is one year compulsory and one year optional. After you have completed the minimum term of one year, there is usually a break clause which will allow you to terminate your lease if you provide the landlord with sufficient notice of either one or two months depending on the agreement.

If you seek more flexibility on the deposit or lease term you can explore alternative options like co-living. For instance, Hmlet co-living apartments only require a 1 month deposit and offers a short minimum lease duration of just 3 months, with an option to extend.

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Now, go forth and find your home in Hong Kong with confidence, just like how locals would! Still could use a little more help? Get in touch with our friendly sales representative who will help you find your next home at Hmlet, every step of the way.


Nontawan Kraitat

Senior Sales Manager at Hmlet. Thailand born, Hong Kong based. As a team we strive to give our members the most memorable coliving experience and change the way people live!