The Security Bureau has said that there were 22 cases of retired disciplined services staff overstaying in departmental quarters over the past three years. The cases were all referred to the Department of Justice in order to begin eviction proceedings following a grace period of up to three months.

Acting Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said that, in two of the 22 cases, the officers concerned vacated the quarters.

The question was raised by localist lawmaker and Civic Passion party leader Cheng Chung-tai, who said that some married disciplined services staff members have said they have been waiting for a long time for departmental quarters units.

West Kowloon Disciplined Services Quarters
West Kowloon Disciplined Services Quarters. File

It is a government policy to provide such units to married staff.

“One of the causes for this situation is that some retired disciplined services staff members continue to occupy departmental quarters units for a long time after retirement,” Cheng said in his written question to the Security Bureau at the Legislative Council.

Lee said in a written reply that there were 132 retired officers who were still residing in departmental quarters beyond the three-month grace period as of April 1 this year, accounting for 0.6 per cent of total disciplined services quarters.

cheng chung tai civic passion
Cheng Chung-tai. Photo: HKFP

Procedures to extend grace period

According to the regulations, the eligibility of disciplined services officers for quarters ceases upon the commencement of their pre-resignation or pre-retirement leave. The officer is allowed two months from the effective date to vacate the quarters.

“If an officer fails to vacate his or her quarters by [end of] the grace period, the Head of Department may, upon reviewing the justifications provided by the officer, exercise discretion to extend the grace period for up to one month,” Lee said.

The officer can then file a written request to further extend the grace period, if he or she is still unable to vacate after three months. But according to regulations, a further extension should only be approved where exceptional compassionate grounds exist. They will then be charged a market rent.

Lee said that, if the application is turned down, and the officer still fails to vacate, their Head of Department should refer the case to the Department of Justice for the commencement of eviction proceedings. Eviction orders will be applied if necessary.

Shun Lee Disciplined Services Quarters
Shun Lee Disciplined Services Quarters. File

Waiting time

There were 7,260 married disciplined services staff who were eligible for but not allocated departmental quarters as of April 1.

“Counting from the date of attaining eligibility, the average waiting time for officers quarters is around one to three years, while the average waiting time for rank and file quarters is around four to seven years,” Lee said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.