Loans will be offered to small owners affected by a moratorium

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Finance Secretary Paul Chan said on Saturday that the government plans to offer interest-free loans to small landlords, who will be affected by its proposed commercial rent moratorium.

Under Chan’s latest budget, landlords will be prohibited from taking legal action against or evicting specified businesses that fell behind on their rent during the latest Covid outbreak.

The relief will be valid for three months and can be extended for an additional three months.

On Saturday, a 68-year-old landlord called an RTHK radio show to tell the finance chief she disagreed with the proposal.

“I am not entitled to old-age allowance and I depend on rental income to live. How can I survive? she asked.

In response, Paul Chan said the policy is aimed at large landlords and estate agencies, rather than small landlords who rely on such rental income.

He said interest-free loans can be made available to smallholders who will be affected by the measure, through the government’s 100% personal loan guarantee scheme.

Loans will be capped at three months rent or HK$100,000.

Chan also said he is considering preventing banks from taking action against homeowners who cannot pay their mortgages on time due to the policy.

But he stressed that his moratorium proposal was only a short-term policy and that tenants would still have to pay rent one day.

The finance chief is working from home until Sunday, after a domestic helper at his official residence tested positive for Covid-19.

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