Privately owned land in Hong Kong is normally held from the Government by way of a 'land grant' known as a Government lease (formerly called a Crown lease) under which a rent is payable. Government rent (formerly Crown rent) is paid by the Government lessee (the 'owner') to the Government in return for the right to hold and occupy the land for the term (i.e. duration) specified in the lease document.
All land leases in the New Territories and New Kowloon north of Boundary Street expired on 27 June 1997. However, Annex III to the Sino-British Joint Declaration provided that non-renewable land leases which expired before 30 June 1997 were automatically extended up to 30 June 2047 without payment of an additional premium but with a new Government rent becoming payable from the date of extension. In addition, all land leases whether on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, or the New Territories which have been granted since 27 May 1985, the date from which the Joint Declaration took effect, are also liable for the new Government rent from 1 July 1997.
The assessment and collection of the new Government rent is governed by the Government Rent (Assessment and Collection) Ordinance (Cap. 515). The Government rent charged under the Ordinance is calculated at 3% of the rateable value of the property and is adjusted in step with any subsequent changes in the rateable value.
Liability for Assessment of Government Rent
In general, the following types of properties are liable for Government rent under the Government Rent (Assessment & Collection) Ordinance:
- properties in the New Territories and New Kowloon (north of Boundary Street);
- properties with land leases granted on or after 27 May 1985; and
- properties with their non-renewable land leases extended on or after 27 May 1985 at a Government rent payable at 3% of the rateable value of the lot from time to time.
Responsibility for Payment of Government Rent
The owner is liable for Government rent. The Government may however demand Government rent from the owner or the ratepayer of the property. If the person who pays Government rent is not the owner, he may claim reimbursement of the Government rent paid from the owner or offset the amount paid from any money due to the owner, unless there is an express agreement to the contrary.
Basis of Assessment
The basis of assessment of the rateable value for Government rent purposes is the same as that for rates. (Please refer to the Rates Section under Our Services for details)
Objections and Appeals Under the Government Rent (Assessment and Collection) Ordinance
The provisions in the Government Rent (Assessment and Collection) Ordinance ("Rent Ordinance") regarding proposals to alter the Government Rent Roll, objections to correction, deletion or interim valuation and appeals to the Tribunal against the decision of the Commissioner are similar to those provided under the Rating Ordinance, particularly with respect to those for a tenement which is not an "identical tenement".
If the tenement is an identical tenement (a tenement the entry for which in the Government Rent Roll is identical to an entry in the Valuation List for rates), a person may object to, or make a proposal on, or appeal against the rateable value of the identical tenement recorded in the Government Rent Roll only under the Rating Ordinance. The Commissioner is required to make the same alteration in the Government Rent Roll if he makes an alteration in the rateable value of an identical tenement included in the Valuation List as a result of a correction, deletion, interim valuation, objection, proposal or appeal made under the Rating Ordinance.
For alterations, other than the rateable value, made in respect of an identical tenement in the Valuation List, the Commissioner may, having regard to the circumstances of the case, cause the same alterations to be made in respect of the identical tenement in the Government Rent Roll. If a tenement is deleted from the Valuation List, the tenement may still be included in the Government Rent Roll for Government rent purposes.
An indigenous villager or his lawful successor in the male line (or tso, or tong) who (or which) has continuously owned an old schedule lot, village lot, small house or other rural holding since 30 June 1984, or small house or resite house granted after that date is entitled to exemption from liability to pay the new Government rent. Application for exemption from payment of the new Government rent should be made to the Director of Lands. Details can be obtained from the relevant District Lands Offices.
In cases where application for rent concession (i.e. exemption from liability to pay the new Government rent) has been made, the applicant should complete a declaration form (pdf file) and return it to the Rating and Valuation Department so that arrangements can be made to suspend the issue of Government rent demands, pending outcome of the rent concession application.