Following our investigative story about Link Asset Management, which revealed that the real estate investment trust may have breached land lease conditions in its car parks, FactWire has created an graphic comparing 182 car parks owned by Link with those owned by the Housing Authority (HA) in the same districts.
Results show 92 per cent of Link’s car parks charge more per month than their HA counterparts. One covered, floating private car parking space in Link’s car parks was 32.9 per cent more expensive to rent on average per month. The one with the largest price difference cost 1.18 times more than its HA counterpart.
According to the parking directory on Link’s website, the company now owns 214 car parks that were formerly owned by the Housing Authority. From late August to early October, FactWire visited most of them and collected data on monthly rates from 182 car parks, including 167 which provide covered, floating private car parking spaces, and 82 car parks that provide covered, fixed private car parking spaces.
Among the 167 car parks that provide covered, floating private car parking spaces, Hoi Fu Car Park in Yau Tsim Mong District was the most expensive, where one covered, floating space costs HK$3,460 per month. The cheapest was Fu Tai Car Park in Tuen Mun, where one only costs HK$1,350 per month.
Generally speaking, the monthly rate for one covered, floating parking space owned by Link was 32.9 per cent higher than its HA counterpart, charging an additional HK$573 on average. Nearly one-fifth of Link’s car parks are over 50 per cent more expensive than similar spaces owned by the HA. Four car parks owned by Link in Tsing Yi (Ching Wang Court Car Park, Cheung On Phase 1 Car Park, Cheung On Phase 2 Car Park, Cheung Fat Car Park) charge HK$3,230 per month for one private car parking space, around 1.18 times more than a similar space in HA car parks located in the same district, which only costs HK$1,480.
The average price difference was smaller between covered, fixed private car parking spaces offered by Link and the HA, costing only HK$321 (16.1 per cent) more in Link’s car parks. The biggest average price difference lies in Tai Ping Car Park in Sheung Shui, Wo Ming Car Park in Tseung Kwan O and Ching Wah Court Car Park in Tsing Yi, where one covered, fixed space costs over 50 per cent more than a similar space in the HA’s car parks.
Among the 182 car parks, 14 of them that provide covered, fixed parking spaces and five that provide covered, floating parking spaces have lower monthly rates than their HA counterparts. The biggest difference was in Wan Tsui Car Park in Chai Wan, where one covered, fixed space was 24.8 per cent cheaper per month than its HA counterpart.
Monthly rates at car parks owned by the HA are determined by their corresponding districts and occupancy rates. The HA divides Hong Kong into four regions, which are ranked in descending order according to price: Region A (Hong Kong and Kowloon), Region B (Sha Tin, Ma On Shan, Tsuen Wan, Kwai Chung, Tseung Kwan O), Region C (Tsing Yi, Tai Po, Fanling, Sheung Shui) and Region D (Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai, Tung Chung and Outlying Islands).
The actual rates are then subject to a three-tier charging system, with car parks having occupancy rates at 90 per cent or above in Tier 1, those at 50 per cent to below 90 per cent in Tier 2, below 50 per cent in Tier 3. According to the HA, the average occupancy of its car parks for the first 11 months of 2014 was 87 per cent. Since pricing details for all car parks were not available, FactWire adopted Tier 1 prices (90 per cent or above occupancy rate) to compare with corresponding car parks owned by Link.
By grouping Link’s car parks into regions according to the HA to calculate the average monthly rate in each region and then compare it to its HA counterpart, results show the biggest difference lies in region C, where one covered, floating space and one covered, fixed space respectively cost HK$928 and HK$753 more on average per month.
In 2005, the Hong Kong Housing Authority hived off 180 retail and car parking facilities of its public housing estates into the Link Real Estate Investment Trust for HK$33.8bn. But since 2014, the latter has already disposed of 28 shopping centres and car parks with only 152 assets remaining in its property portfolio.
According to Link’s 2016 annual report, it now manages 69,000 public estate car parking spaces. Until 31 March, 2017, Link had a total revenue of HK$1.94bn from car park rentals, with a quarter of which came from hourly parking, amounting to HK$484m.