Rent moratorium can also benefit landlords: minister

The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui, on Thursday said a proposed moratorium on commercial rents would also benefit landlords.

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

Financial Secretary Paul Chan has said the relief will be valid for three months, and will be extended for another three months if necessary.

Hui said companies that received money under the latest round of anti-epidemic funding, as well as those hit by the government’s social distancing rules, are covered by the moratorium.

Speaking at a press conference, he said the measure is not meant to disrupt the rental market, adding that it doesn’t necessarily mean landlords will lose out.

“In terms of the landlords themselves, they may also incur extra costs if they need to find another tenant. And at the same time whether they can get another tenant is also a potential unknown,” Hui said.

“From the landlord’s perspective, having the tenant there, yet at the same time with this law in place, would facilitate them to ride through this difficult period.”

When asked if the government will provide a subsidy to landlords affected, Hui said: “This arrangement is basically not about the government giving out money.”

He said the government hopes that landlords and tenants can work things out between themselves.

The minister also said that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority will liaise with banks for them to be more flexible with landlords who are repaying mortgages.