LCQ12: The District Administration Scheme implemented by the Home Affairs Department

     Following is a question by the Hon Dennis Kwok and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (May 14):


     According to the report made by the Director of Home Affairs (DHA) as the Controlling Officer of Head 63, staff members of HAD paid a total of 41 483 visits and 41 286 visits to buildings with owners' corporations (OCs)/mutual aid committees/owners' committees/residents' organisations (collectively referred to as "local organisations") as well as 7 551 visits and 7 830 visits to buildings without any form of management in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 respectively, in order to implement the District Administration Scheme.  Yet, in reply to a question raised by me in examining the Estimates of Expenditure 2014-2015, the DHA indicated that the authorities had not maintained a list of buildings visited, and did not give replies on the number of staff members for each visit and the average time spent.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether staff members of HAD are required, after paying each visit to a local organisation for implementing the District Administration Scheme, to record and report to their superiors on the content, effectiveness or any follow-up action of the visit; if they are not required to do so, how HAD monitors its staff in performing such duties, and how it gets to know the problems faced by local organisations (such as building management problems) and assists them in solving such problems;

(2) given that the representatives of some OCs have relayed to me that most staff members of HAD lack expertise in building management and often fail to effectively assist OCs in dealing with building management matters, how HAD assesses the effectiveness of the support services provided by its officers to OCs; and

(3) of the average number of staff members of HAD designated to handle requests for assistance concerning building management in each of the past five years; whether it has assessed the adequacy of resources allocated in this regard?



     In respect of management of private buildings, the Government's policy is to assist property owners to discharge their building management responsibilities through multi-pronged measures, including the provision of a legal framework and appropriate support services.  The Building Management Ordinance (BMO) provides a legal framework for building management, formation and operation of owners' corporations (OCs) and other related matters.  The BMO empowers the OCs, which are independent body corporates, to act on behalf of the owners to handle matters relating to building management, and at the same time, empowers owners to monitor the operation of the OCs and their management committees.  Owners and residents may also establish other forms of organisations, such as owners' committees and mutual aid committees, to assist in performing building management duties.  In addition, the Home Affairs Department (HAD) has set up in all its 18 District Offices (DOs) the District Building Management Liaison Teams (DBMLTs), headed by experienced Liaison Officers (LOs), to assist owners and OCs by offering them advice and support for effective building management.

     My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(1) Currently, there are about 40 000 private buildings in Hong Kong.  The major duties of DBMLTs include paying visits to these buildings to better understand the needs of the owners and OCs/residents' organisations, and provide them with necessary support services.  It is DBMLTs' aim to visit each and every OC/private building at least once a year.  If and when necessary, or at the request of the owners and OCs, DMBLTs will increase the number of visits to individual buildings.

     After visiting the buildings, OCs or residents' organisations, staff of the DBMLTs will record in designated proforma the details of visits, including the date, time, names of the persons/organisations/buildings visited, nature of the visits, condition of the common parts of the buildings, matters of discussion and follow-up actions, etc, so as to report to the officers-in-charge of the DOs concerned about the visits and the follow-up actions. DBMLTs will also inform the persons/organisations that they have visited of the latest position/results of the follow-up actions being taken and, where necessary, provide them with further support and assistance.

     As mentioned in our reply given at the special meeting of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, the number of staff paying visits to buildings and the duration of building visits vary, subject to the nature and purposes of the visits.  As there are tens of thousands of buildings involved, we do not keep separate statistics of the number of staff and the average time spent for each visit.

(2) Building management involves a wide range of issues and is increasingly complicated.  DBMLTs endeavours to offer advice and support to OCs and owners with a view to assisting them in handling matters related to building management.  For instance, they attend OCs' meetings upon invitation, answer enquiries on building management, advise on the procedures for convening meetings, procurement, maintenance and financial management under the BMO, and provide precedent cases for their reference.

     DBMLTs will, when necessary, advise owners and OCs to consult professionals, or refer them to the Property Management Advisory Centres of the Hong Kong Housing Society to make appointments for free professional advice.

     Should a dispute arise between OCs and owners over building management, DBMLTs will strive to encourage and help both parties to resolve the dispute through enhancement of communication or mediation services.  If the dispute persists, DBMLTs will refer them to the professionals of the Panel of Advisors on Building Management Disputes specifically set up by the HAD.  The Panel, comprising professionals from different fields, provides impartial, authoritative and professional advice to owners or OCs to assist them to make a settlement.  In case the dispute remains unresolved, DBMLTs will advise the owners or OCs to seek independent legal advice and consider referring the dispute to the Lands Tribunal for determination under the BMO.

     To enhance the professional knowledge of members of DBMLTs in building management, the HAD, in collaboration with tertiary institutions, regularly organises training courses to understand management of multi-storey buildings from a legal perspective and arranges thematic seminars and workshops to study the practical issues and precedent cases in connection with building management.  In addition to on-the-job training, the HAD earmarks funds every year to sponsor LOs to take building management courses offered by tertiary institutions for further enhancement of their professional knowledge so that they can offer advice and support to owners and OCs in a more effective manner.

(3) The HAD reviews from time to time the establishment and scope of service in the area of building management having regard to actual circumstances and needs.  At present, of some 470 LOs in the HAD, about one-fourth (i.e. around 120) are deployed for building management duties.  In the past five years, there had been an increase of about 9% in the number of LOs responsible for building management.  

     Apart from deployment of additional manpower for building management duties, HAD has in recent years, through re-prioritisation and enhanced work arrangements, proactively introduced various targeted measures and schemes, for instance the Building Management Professional Advisory Service Scheme, recruitment of Resident Liaison Ambassadors in "three nil" buildings, provision of structured training for owners engaged in OC responsibilities, and the setting up of the Panel of Advisors on Building Management Disputes, to provide more effective assistance to owners for proper building management.  These help to focus resources and allow LOs to spend more time to deal with complicated building management cases.

Ends/Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:01