Hong Kong is set to introduce rent control regulations for its notoriously cramped sub-divided flats in a bid to protect sub-tenants.

Unveiling the plans on Tuesday, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan said the new regulations will require a mandatory written agreement between landlord and the tenant setting out the terms of the lease.

Booth concerned with public authority and subdivided flats. Photo: Ellie Ng.

Rental agreements will also stipulate a fixed term of two years with a right to renew, meaning that a resident will have a protected tenure of four years in total.

A new cap of 15 per cent on annual rental raises will also be implemented, while landlords will be prevented from overcharging tenants on utilities.

The bill will be gazetted on Friday and have its first reading in the legislature next Wednesday. Chan said he expected the bill to be implemented within the year.

The new measures, aimed at protecting tenants from arbitrary eviction and rent hikes, were recommended by a government task force in March, but have been criticised by rights groups as not providing adequate protection for tenants.

Hong Kong’s sub-divided flats house tens of thousands of low-income people in cramped conditions in a city with some of the world’s highest housing costs.