I am evicting a tenant because they are in arrears on their rent. I am pretty sure any self-help options are illegal here in Hong Kong (based on British law). Does having the right of possession protect him from being treated like a squatter? E.g. if a random guy moves into my apartment without permission I can just call the police to throw him out.

So when do I exactly get back the right of possession? Does he need to physically hand over the key and move out his stuff? Or can the court revoke his right and award it back to me? It just sounds odd I have to claim my own property back...

Ideally I would add a clause to the contract so a tenant waives this right when this kind of breach occurs. Then I should be able to just call the police to throw him out?

1 Answer 1


No, you cannot just call the police and throw him out.

Here are two concepts which sound a bit abstract: "who does the property belong to" and "who can use this property".

Let's say I rent an apartment. One night, the landlord knocked on the door and asked to stay for the night. I have every right to kick him out. Why? This is my home. This area is for my private residential use. I certainly has ultimate decision power on what activities can happen inside this area.

But the landlord owns the place. He can sell, transfer, or otherwise stop renting the place to me, provided that a reasonable time is given to notify the occupant. He cannot, out of no where, show up next morning and tell me I have 30 minutes to get all my stuff out of the apartment. That is just utterly unfair.

Does he need to physically hand over the key?

Well, not really. He needs to return the place to its original condition. He needs to remove all stuff brought by him. If he drilled a hole in a wall, he has to patch it. If he removed a cabinet, he need to put it back. Finally he needs to give you access. Physically handing over the key is one of many ways.

Ideally I would add a clause to the contract so a tenant waives this right when this kind of breach occurs.

Nope. You cannot. Even if you add this clause, the court would likely consider this clause unenforceable (but does not void the rest of the contract!). Such clause is to bias towards the landlord. You must give the occupant a reasonable time to respond to your request of asking him to move out.

Let's suppose:

I have already sent several notices, demanding him to move out, but after 3 months, he is still occupying the property

If that is the case, you can take him to the court. He has no legal ground to occupy and continue to use the property which he does not belong.

A reasonable time of a move out notice is usually 30 days, here in HK.

  • There are a few things that still seem odd. A contact is a mutual agreement between two people, what does it matter if some 3rd party thinks it is biased? If a tenant signs it why wouldn't the clause be usable? Also I think 1 month is reasonable. But here it takes at least 2 months with the court.
    – jiggunjer
    Jun 15, 2015 at 19:02
  • I'm also not talking about a right to throw people out at random. Breach of contract is established. When someone uses a service and doesn't pay for it I call it theft, I did not give credit so why is it treated as a (civil) debt. Lastly that quote about the 3month notices was not from me.
    – jiggunjer
    Jun 15, 2015 at 19:14
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    You can't create contracts to circumvent the law. If I own a restaurant, I cannot create a waiver and have people sign it at the door agreeing they do not care whether or not I obey health regulations, then pretend you don't have to obey health regulations because of it. Presuming you have a legal rental unit, there are laws about renting and those laws are enforceable regardless of what you and the renter may agree upon privately. Otherwise there would be no point in any rental laws at all, for I think obvious reasons ("If you want to live here, you don't want a fire escape, right?")
    – goldilocks
    Jun 15, 2015 at 19:30
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    Exactly. Only reasonable agreements are recognized in law. E.g. if I sign a contract with you, saying if I don't give you a pencil tomorrow, I have to pay one million dollars to you as penalty. The next day, I didn't bring a pencil. Your lost is the cost to acquire a new similar pencil, not one million dollars as agreed by the contract. This contract is unenforceable because it is not fair to both parties. You cannot use law to gain. You can only use law to compensate what you have lost.
    – kevin
    Jun 16, 2015 at 2:11

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