3. What major government departments are responsible for governing tenancy matters in Hong Kong? To which department(s) should a party go to if a tenancy dispute/problem arises?
The Rating and Valuation Department is responsible for administering the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance (Cap.7 of the Laws of Hong Kong). Regarding tenancy matters, it also provides such services as endorsement of Notice of New Letting or Renewal Agreement, issuance of Certificate of Rateable Value and determination of the primary use of a property (i.e. whether it is used as a domestic or business/non-domestic premises). The Rent Officers of the Rating and Valuation Department will also answer public queries on tenancy matters through a telephone hotline at 21508229.
The Lands Tribunal is the major body responsible for handling tenancy disputes especially when recovery of possession is involved. Unlike the higher courts, a tribunal is characterized by more simplified/informal procedures in adjudicating disputes between lay persons at relatively lower scales of legal costs. Do note however the Lands Tribunal is a Court. It is bound to act in a neutral manner and will not act as parties’ legal adviser over the merits of their cases.
If the dispute is purely about a monetary claim of $75,000 or less, then the claimant can make the claims at the Small Claims Tribunal. If the amount of the claim is higher or the relevant legal issue is more complex, then the parties can also bring the case to the District Court or the Court of First Instance of the High Court (please refer to Part III "How to recover the outstanding rent and get back the property?" for more details).