Loans to be offered to moratorium-hit small landlords

Financial Secretary Paul Chan said on Saturday that the government was planning to offer interest-free loans to small landlords, who will be affected by his proposed moratorium on commercial rents.

Under Chan’s latest budget, landlords will be banned from taking legal action against, or evicting, specified businesses which fall behind on their rent during the latest Covid outbreak.

The relief will be valid for three months, and can be extended for three more months.

On Saturday, a 68-year-old landlord called in to an RTHK radio programme to tell the financial chief about her disagreement with the proposal.

“I am not eligible for old age living allowance, and I rely on the rental income for my living. How can I survive?” she asked.

In response, Paul Chan said the policy was aimed at big landlords and real estate agencies, instead of small landlords who rely on such rental income.

He said interest-free loans can be offered to small landlords who will be affected by the measure, through the government’s 100% Personal Loan Guarantee scheme.

The loans will be capped at three months’ worth of rent or HK$100,000.

Chan also said he was considering restricting banks from taking action against landlords who cannot repay their mortgage on time due to the policy.

But he stressed his moratorium proposal was only a short-term policy, and that tenants would still have to pay rent one day.

The financial chief is working from home until Sunday, after a domestic helper at his official residence tested preliminary positive for Covid-19.