(A) Introduction

(a) The aim of this pamphlet is to give a brief outline on how an indigenous villager in the New Territories can apply for a small house grant under the New Territories Small House Policy. (See Explanatory Notes (a)). It contains general guidelines and basic information for the applicant.

(b) This pamphlet is not intended to create any legal rights or obligations and serves only to explain the key features of current Government New Territories Small House Policy. The applicant may approach the respective District Lands Office for further details.

(B) Definitions

(a) Indigenous Villager

An 'indigenous villager' is a male person at least 18 years old who is descended through the male line from a resident in 1898 of a recognised village.

(b) Recognised Village

A 'recognised village' is one, which is shown on the list of recognised villages approved by the Director of Lands.

(c) Small House Grant

(i) A Small House Grant includes any Private Treaty Grant (on Government land), Building Licence (on private land) or Exchange issued under the Small House Policy since its implementation in December 1972.

(ii)    It also includes the following types of grants prior to the implementation of the Small House Policy:

  • Land Grant by way of a Restricted Village Auction;
  • Exchange by Surrender and Regrant at reduced or nil premium; or
  • Free Building Licence granted to a villager for the building of a village-type house.

(C) Eligibility Criteria

The following principal criteria must be met before a small house grant can be made: -

(a)    The applicant is an indigenous villager;

(b)    The applicant has NOT previously received any small house grant;

(c)    The site applied for is within the 'V' zone and the environs or the village extension area of a recognised village; (See Explanatory Notes (b) and (g));

(d)    The site applied for is not affected by any impending development, and does not prejudice any future planning or development proposals; and

(e)    There are no valid local objections to the proposed building.

(D) Method of Application and Procedures

(a) The applicant will be required to complete a standard Small House Composite Application Form (including an application form, a declaration form for the certification of the status of the applicant and a statutory declaration form), which can be obtained from any New Territories District Lands Offices free of charge.

(b) The completed application form, together with the declaration of the status of the applicant as an indigenous villager signed by the Village Representative, Chairman or Vice-chairman of the Rural Committee concerned, may be submitted to the District Lands Officer for processing either by post or in person. (See Explanatory Notes (d) and (e)).

(c) On receiving an application, the District Lands Officer will acknowledge receipt and inform the applicant of the expected date when his case will be processed by making reference to the date of application. When the application is due for processing, the District Lands Officer will invite the applicant to attend an interview at an appointed time and make the necessary statutory declaration. The applicant is required to bring along to the interview all evidence such as Birth Certificate, Hong Kong Identity Card/Passport and any other relevant documents to prove his status of being an indigenous villager. He will have to give details about the application at the interview, e.g. the location of the site, the dimensions and orientation of the proposed small house, etc.

(d) To facilitate the processing of small house application, the applicant may provide the following information to the District Lands Officer for consideration: -

(i)    a duplicate copy of land title record in respect of the lot under application from the Land Registry.

(ii)    a survey plan of 1:1000 scale showing the proposed site under application, the dimensions of the proposed small house, the orientation of the proposed balcony and location of the proposed septic tank and soakaway systems.

(e) Notices with a 14-day period will be posted in the village(s) and the Rural Committee concerned to see whether there are valid local objections to the application. Other relevant Government departments, e.g. Planning Department, will also be consulted if necessary. Such consultation will take about 3 weeks in normal circumstances.

(f) If all the eligibility criteria are met and the application is approved, an offer letter will be issued by the District Lands Officer to the applicant with a demand note for payment of the administrative fee and/or premium as the case may be. (See Explanatory Notes (f)).

(g) When the offer is accepted and payment made by the applicant, the lease or licence conditions will be prepared for execution by both the applicant and the District Lands Officer. In straightforward cases, it may be possible for execution to take place within 170 working days from the date when the District Lands Officer begins to process the application. Complicated cases will usually require a longer processing time depending on the nature and extent of complexity.

(h) The applicant is required to execute the grant document in person, except in very exceptional circumstances where an attorney may be appointed. After completion of the grant, the applicant will have to apply for and obtain Certificates of Exemption in respect of building works, site formation works and drainage works from the District Lands Officer before commencement of construction work on site. (See Explanatory Notes (c)). For relevant details, please refer to the information pamphlet under the title of 'Building New Territories Exempted Houses' published by the Lands Department in September, 1999. At the same time, the applicant will have to apply to the District Lands Officer for setting out of the small house site on ground.

(i) If Certificates of Exemption in respect of site formation and drainage works are not issued by the District Lands Officer due to geographical and topographical constraints, the applicant is required to submit site formation and drainage plans formally to the Building Authority for approval prior to commencement of construction works.

(j) If the application is not approved, a rejection letter indicating the reasons for disapproval will be sent to the applicant. There may be occasions where prior planning permission under the Town Planning Ordinance, Chapter 131 is required for the applications to be considered by the District Lands Officer, a letter will be sent to the applicant explaining how he can further proceed with his application. (See Explanatory Notes (g)).

(E) Building Covenant and Certificate of Compliance

(a) The building covenant period in a new small house grant is 36 calendar months.

(b) On completion of building works, the *T2 competent person as recognised by the Buildings Department, and the Registered Structural Engineer/Registered Professional Engineer employed by the applicant shall jointly certify and submit to the District Lands Officer a construction completion report.

(c) When the District Lands Officer has received the construction completion report, and is satisfied that all other obligations imposed under the lease/licence conditions have been complied with, he will issue a certificate of compliance. (Details are shown at the Annex)

(F) Enquiries

An applicant can make enquiries at the respective District Lands Office for more detailed information about the application procedures.

(G) Appeals

If an applicant is not satisfied with the reasons given by the District Lands Officer in rejecting his application, he can seek assistance from his Rural Committee (RC). If the RC considers that the applicant has a case, the RC may appeal to the District Lands Officer on the applicant's behalf. The appeal will be carefully considered by the Lands Department's Headquarters/District Lands Officer.

*A T2 competent person means a person who possesses a higher diploma or higher certificate in the civil/structural/building disciplines, awarded by the Technical Colleges which are approved and/or recognised by the Vocational Training Council and with a total relevant working experience of not less than 3 years.


(a) The New Territories Small House Policy is a policy approved by the Executive Council and has been implemented since December 1972. It is formulated to allow an indigenous villager to apply for permission to erect for himself during his lifetime a small house on a suitable site within his own village.

(b) 'Environs of a recognised village' in general refers to a 300 ft. distance surrounding a recognised village where small house applications are considered. However, consideration will also be given to applications for sites within a 'V' zone in a Development Permission Area/Outline Zoning Plan, which encircles a recognised village and is larger than the 300 ft. village environs.

(c)    A small house is basically a building in the New Territories constructed in accordance with the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance, Chapter 121. The main features are that the building shall neither contain more than three storeys nor exceed a height of 8.23 metres (27 ft.) and the maximum roofed-over area of the house shall not normally exceed 65.03 square metres (700 sq. ft.). Under the said Ordinance, a certificate of exemption should be obtained from the District Lands Officer prior to the commencement of any building works unless plans prepared by an Authorized Person have been approved by the Building Authority. Similarly, the owner should apply for separate certificates of exemption for site formation works and drainage works from the District Lands Officer and shall not commence any works on site before obtaining the necessary certificate of exemption, or securing approval of plans by the Building Authority.

(d) In the case of application for Building Licence or Land Exchange (Surrender and Regrant), the land under application must be registered in the applicant's name.

(e) Application for small house grant on Government land from a villager living overseas will be refused unless the District Lands Officer is satisfied that the applicant intends to return and reside in his village. The District Lands Officer may however, consider overseas application for small house grant on private land.

(f) An administrative fee will be levied for small house grants. A premium at a concessionary rate calculated by Government will also be charged except where Free Building Licences are issued. For those small house sites where Government money has been spent on resumption, clearance, site formation or infrastructure, a higher premium will be imposed.

(g) Pursuant to the provisions under the Town Planning Ordinance, Chapter 131, planning permission will have to be obtained from the Town Planning Board under Section 16 of the Ordinance for erection of small houses outside the 'V' Zones (village type development) as shown on statutory plans such as Development Permission Area Plans and Outline Zoning Plans.


(a)    Approval will not normally be given for a site situated on a steep slope which is not suitable for small house development. In exceptional circumstances where approval is given for site formation works on a slope, the applicant will be required to employ an Authorized Person/Engineer to submit site formation plans to the Building Authority for approval.

(b)    An application for a small house site outside the applicant's own Heung will not be considered, unless he can prove to the satisfaction of the District Lands Officer that his ancestor has already settled in the new Heung under application, and there is no local objections to his application.

(c) Where division of a large lot is involved to enable the construction of more than one small house thereon by a group of villagers, the applicants should ensure that the procedure for the division of lot boundaries is completed before the small house applications are made.

(d) For a development of TEN or more New Territories Exempted Houses, the applicants should ensure the availability of an Emergency Vehicular Access (EVA) before submitting applications. For a development fewer than NINE houses in a cluster, consideration as to whether or not to impose the EVA requirement will depend on local circumstances and development potentials. The District Lands Officer will, in consultation with the Director of Fire Services, critically consider such application on individual merits.


Issue of a Certificate of Compliance

(a) All requirements specified in the General and Special Conditions of the Small House Grant must be complied with before a Certificate of Compliance can be issued. The main development restrictions, which are by no means exhaustive, are tabulated below for easy reference:

Main Features

Standard Requirements

(actual requirements may slightly vary depending on individual lease/licence conditions)

(i) Roofed-over area

    not exceeding 65.03m2 (700 s.f.)

(ii) Height

    not exceeding 8.23m (27ft.)

(iii) Number of storeys

    not exceeding 3 storeys

(iv) Balcony/canopy

    not exceeding 1.22m (4ft.)

(v) Water tank on the roof     area not exceeding 2 m2 (21.52 s.f.);
    height not not exceeding 1.22m (4ft.)
(vi) Stairhood     height not exceeding 2.14m (7ft.);
    area not exceeding 7.44 m2 (80 s.f.)

(vii) Parapet on the roof

    height not exceeding 1.22m (4ft.)

(viii) Thickness of wall
  • reinforced concrete :  not less than 175mm (6.89in.)
  • brick : not less than 340mm (13.39in.) at the lowest storey and not less than 225mm (8.86 in.) at the 1st and 2nd floors
(ix) Health and drainage
  • all internal wall surfaces of kitchen, bathroom and latrine accommodation should be imperviously tiled or surfaced with smooth impervious material to a height of not less than 1.22m (4ft.)
  • provision of the following:

-  a 9-inches surface channel
-  a septic tank
-  a soakage pit
-  a vent pipe and manholes
-  a kitchen

(x) Others
  • any other requirements under the Certificates of Exemption for Building Works, Drainage Works and Site Formation Works are complied with
  • no illegal structures or unauthorized extensions
  • no off-site development

(b) A Certificate of Compliance will not be issued if any of the above requirements is not complied with. The subject officer concerned has no authority to make exemptions. Appeals should be made in writing and addressed to the District Lands Officer.

(c) For general enquiries :

District Lands Office/Islands :

19/F, Harbour Building, 38 Pier Road, Central, Hong Kong
Tel : 2852 4265

District Lands Office/Kwai Tsing :

10/F & 11/F, Tsuen Wan Station, Multi-storey Carpark Building,
174-208 Castle Peak Road, Tsuen Wan, N.T.
Tel : 2402 1055 , 2402 1052

District Lands Office/North :

2/F & 6/F, North District Government Offices,
3 Pik Funk Road, Fanling, N.T.
Tel : 2675 1502

District Lands Office/Sai Kung :

3/F & 4/F, Sai Kung Government Offices,
34 Chan man Street, Sai Kung, N.T.
Tel : 2791 7019

District Lands Office/Sha Tin :

2 Tung Lo Wan Hill Road, Sha Tin, N.T.
Tel : 2684 1100

District Lands Office/Tai Po :

Tai Po Government Offices Building,
1 Ting Kok Road, Tai Po, N.T.
Tel : 2654 1263

District Lands Office/Tsuen Wan :

10/F & 11/Floors, Tsuen Wan Station, Multi-storey Carpark Building,
174-208 Castle Peak Road, Tsuen Wan, N.T.
Tel : 2402 1055 , 2402 1052

District Lands Office/Tuen Mun :

6/F & 7/F, Tuen Mun Government Offices,
1 Tuen Hl Road, Tuen Mun, N.T.
Tel : 2451 1176

District Lands Office/Yuen Long :

9-11/F, Yuen Long Government Offices and Tai Kiu Market,
2 Kiu Lok Square, Yuen Long , N.T.
Tel : 2443 3575 , 2443 3635

Lands Department
June 2001 (Revised edition)