LCQ11: Management of HOS courts

     Following is a question by the Hon Regina Ip and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (November 24):


     I have received complaints from a flat owner in a Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) court that his flat has been plagued by problems such as water seepage through ceilings and backflow of water from water pipes in the bathroom, etc. over an extended period of time.  Yet, the Structural Safety Guarantee currently provided by the Housing Department (HD) to owners of HOS flats does not cover defects that are not related to the structural stability and integrity of the building.  The flat owner in question has repeatedly requested the Owners' Corporation (OC) of his building and the property management company (PMC) appointed by the OC to follow up the problems, but to no avail.  This flat owner can only stoically put up with the situation because he cannot afford to move and there is no avenue to lodge complaint.  He criticised that the property management of and the complaints mechanism for HOS courts have failed to fully take into account the needs of HOS households and need to be improved.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)of the number of complaints received by the authorities in the past five years from HOS flat owners concerning property management and problems about the interior and exterior structures of the flats which are not covered by the Structural Safety Guarantee; and among them, the number of complaints involving HOS flats not being up to the handover standards; of the specific long-term measures the authorities have to deal with these complaints and to rectify the problems;

(b)given that HD encourages HOS flat owners to form OCs within the first year of occupation, in respect of HOS courts which are fully qualified to form OCs (e.g. most units in the courts have been occupied), of HD's specific measures in place at present to encourage owners to form OCs;

(c)given that before the formal formation of OCs, HD would appoint qualified PMCs to manage HOS courts on behalf of the owners and assist them in monitoring the performance of the PMCs, of the criteria adopted by HD for selecting PMCs and the details of its mechanism for monitoring the performance of the PMCs concerned, and how HD handles complaints from owners concerning property management;

(d)given that the OCs of HOS courts, upon their formation, will replace HD in appointing their PMCs, whether HD had dealt with complaints in the past five years from individual owners of these HOS courts that their reasonable complaints about property management and suggestions for improvement had not been handled by the OCs concerned, and whether HD had assumed a supervisory role over the OCs and/or PMCs concerned; if not, of the reasons for that; and

(e)given that some HOS flat owners have relayed to me that HOS flat owners, who are generally not well-off, may not have the ability to resort to legal means when their disputes over property management with the PMCs or OCs concerned have not been dealt with by OCs or HD, whether the authorities had, in the past five years, provided assistance to HOS flat owners who had lodged reasonable complaints in respect of such situation; if they had, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a)The numbers of complaints regarding the property management and maintenance works not covered by the Structural Safety Guarantee of the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) courts lodged by flat owners to the Housing Department (HD) over the recent five years (for the period of 2006 to October 2010) are 56 and 17 respectively.

     All HOS flats are subject to a rigorous inspection by the HD according to the established standards under the prevailing arrangements before being put on sale in the market.  In general, HOS flat owners may put up some minor requests for rectifications or repairs at the time of handover, which will be handled by the HD promptly.  The HD does not keep any statistics on requests for rectifications or repairs.

     The HD has an established mechanism to deal with complaints.  The HD will handle the complaints promptly upon receipt of complaints and aim at giving a reply within ten days.  If the case is more complicated and the HD is unable to render a reply within ten days, an interim reply will be issued, to be followed by a substantive reply within 21 days, or a letter to inform the complainant of the latest progress on their case.  This mechanism ensures every complaint case will be followed up promptly and properly.  Of course, the HD will review the operation of the mechanism concerned from time to time to see if improvements are possible.

(b)The Government has been encouraging and rendering support to owners of private buildings in the formation of Owners' Corporations (OCs) to manage their own properties effectively.  As far as HOS court management is concerned, the HD has been adopting positive supporting measures to assist flat owners of HOS courts in establishing OCs.  The measures include:

1. The HD, being the Deed of Mutual Covenant (DMC) Manager of HOS courts before the formation of OC, will require and supervise property management agents (PMAs) through daily contact with flat owners to encourage interested owners to set up OCs; and through liaison with respective local District Offices for arrangement of talks and distribution of publicity leaflets for dissemination of information on the formation of OCs and building management; and

2. The HD will meet regularly with owner representatives to explain the functions and establishment procedures of an OC.  If the owners decide to form an OC, the HD will assist them to convene owners' meetings and with the appointment of a Management Committee (MC).

(c)To ensure the engaged PMAs are competent to provide quality property management services, the HD maintains a list of PMAs.  All PMAs applying for listing will be required to undergo a stringent eligibility vetting process, including the assessment of the companies' experience; financial capability; adequacy and qualification of full-time staff, etc.  When it is necessary to commission PMAs, the HD will invite PMAs on the list to submit their tenders in accordance with the tendering procedures.

     In monitoring PMAs in their court management works, the HD will request the PMAs to provide services in accordance with the stipulated terms of the contract signed between the PMAs and the HD.  The HD will meet with the flat owners regularly, and invite the flat owners to complete household surveys and give assessments to gauge the satisfaction levels of owners on the performance of PMAs concerned.  The assessment results will then serve as reference for future tender arrangements and acceptance of tender.

     If complaints lodged by flat owners are routine in nature, they will usually be handled by PMAs direct.  PMAs have to make a record and report to the HD regularly in respect of the complaints received.  For complaints relating to PMAs, they will be handled by the HD direct.

(d)Each OC is an independent body corporate.  The OC takes over the management authority and responsibility of an HOS court from the Housing Authority (HA), as such each OC engages its own PMA to undertake the court management works.  The HD has no authority to supervise the works of the OC or the PMA engaged by OCs for the management of an HOS court.  If the HD receives complaints or improvement proposals from individual flat owner of relevant HOS courts, they will be referred to the OCs concerned for follow-up.

(e)The Government renamed the Multi-storey (Owners Incorporation) Ordinance as the Building Management Ordinance in 1993.  It provides a legal framework for the formation and operation of OCs, and stipulates a number of building management requirements to facilitate owners' participation in managing and handling the daily affairs of their courts.

     In case of any dispute over the management of HOS courts, flat owners should approach the MC of OCs for resolution through communication and consultation, or request the Chairman of MC concerned to convene an owners' meeting to discuss and vote on the issue.  Apart from seeking assistance in resolving disputes from respective local District Offices, flat owners may also apply to the Lands Tribunal for its adjudication on building management issues.

Ends/Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Issued at HKT 14:30