Before we start, as a landlord, ask yourself one question: do you want quality or quantity? Quality refers to the quality of your tenant and quantity the amount of rent. Tenants in Hong Kong usually fall into 4 major categories: students, young professionals, families and expats, and all of them have different needs and priorities. So before setting out to find the right tenant, ask yourself what you are looking for – a long term lease, good money, steady rental income or a responsible and clean tenant?
Most students prefer to live near their university but have a limited budget, so landlords can expect a certain level of bargaining and maybe a slightly lower than market price as most of them are supported by their family and will try to control their expenses, that also means that you cannot raise the rent too much every year if you want to keep your tenant. For these students, this is properly the first time they are living away from home and their skill in performing house chores is not exactly very polished, so don’t expect them to be too tidy or clean, especially during their exams. However, the upside is that once your student tenant have settled down, the likelihood of them moving out is pretty low and you will have an occupant in your property for at least 4 years.
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When renting to young professionals, landlords can expect a pretty generous rental income and the amount of furniture from this type of tenant is usually minimal so the move-in period should be relatively short. With a high salary income and usually fewer financial burdens, young professional tenants are susceptible to a moderate to high rent rise if your property provides the right amenities. One thing that requires attention is whether your prospective tenant is a smoker or not. If the tenant is a heavy smoker, there will be substantial tobacco residue built up on all surfaces and will make cleaning rather difficult when your tenant decides to leave.
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The good thing with renting your property to a family is that it is going to be a long term lease for families with young children tend to reside in neighbourhoods with a good school net and they will not make the decision to move lightly. Since the cost of living and education has significantly gone up during the past decade or so, landlords should expect an average but steady rental income. Families tend to keep their home clean and neat but if they have very young children, landlords should be prepared for a decent level of stickers and graffiti on your walls. Another item to watch out for is pets – you have to consider if you will accept a tenant with pets. If your potential tenant has a cat, there is the issue of installing window screens to prevent the pet from jumping out the window. If it is a dog, does the dog bark a lot to cause a problem? And beware that both cats and dogs (except poodles) will shed fur.
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As they are professionals hired by corporations, expats tend to have an abundant housing allowance, so landlords will be able to fetch a reasonably high rent income if your property is close to a major financial district. Used to living in an environment with plenty of space and a higher level of hygiene, expats from North America and Europe will look for a property that offers substantial space, tranquil surroundings and a clean environment, especially for expats who are moving to Hong Kong with their family. Landlords should also expect expats to be more stringent than locals when it comes to the timeliness and standard of maintenance and repairs, so make sure your property is squeaky clean and thoroughly fixed up before handing it over. Some expat tenants might request for a furnished property because they are only going to be in Hong Kong for a few years and don’t want to bother with getting rid of the furniture when they leave, so as landlord, you have an extra cost you need to take into consideration.
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