2. I heard about someone who claimed that they were the owner of a property for let. After the potential tenant had paid the deposit and the rent in advance, the “landlord” disappeared with the money. If I am going to rent a property, then how can I be sure that the landlord is the real owner?
The Land Registry provides a “Land Search” service to the public. Any person can conduct a search at the Land Registry to ascertain the ownership particulars of any property in Hong Kong. A potential tenant should always conduct a land search before entering into a tenancy document to verify the identity of the landlord (or his/her representatives).
If the potential tenant is renting the property through an estate agent or has retained a solicitor firm, then the agent and the firm are duty bound to conduct such a search to protect the tenant's interests.
To best safeguard one’s interests, it is also appropriate for the prospective tenant to request the landlord to actually enter and view the unit to be let in the presence of estate agents before entering into any tenancy agreements.