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Buildings Department takes firm stand on enforcement action against illegal sub-divided domestic cubicles in industrial buildings
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     Responding to media enquiries on the protest staged by occupants of sub-divided domestic cubicles (SDFs) in industrial buildings, a spokesman for the Buildings Department (BD) reiterated today (January 17) the department's determination to take enforcement action against illegal SDFs in industrial buildings. The spokesman emphasised that changing industrial premises to domestic use would pose a serious fire risk to occupants, and the erection of partition walls would render the fire escape route in the premises inadequate.  Stringent enforcement action against such irregularities was warranted to ensure public safety.

     "No one will be rendered homeless due to the Government's enforcement action. We will liaise with other related departments, including the Housing Department and Social Welfare Department, to provide assistance to those occupants affected during the course of our enforcement action," the BD spokesman said when asked about re-housing by the protesters.

     However, the spokesman added that no one displaced by the BD's enforcement action, including households that have already applied for public rental housing (PRH) via the general waiting list, would be given an earlier allocation of PRH.

     The BD announced earlier that it will apply for closure orders on March 7, 2012 from the court to close certain floors of Nos 78 and 78A, Larch Street, Kowloon, in order to facilitate Government contractors in demolishing the unauthorised building works there.

     Notices of intention to apply for closure orders were posted at conspicuous locations of the floors concerned on December 29, 2011 to notify the owners and those affected.  The aim of this operation was to ensure that the premises will no longer be used for domestic purposes, in order to mitigate the risks posed to the occupants.

     The closure order application is scheduled for early March to allow occupants now living in the subject premises more time to relocate with Chinese New Year approaching.  The BD has arranged with the Housing Department, Social Welfare Department and Home Affairs Department to offer appropriate re-housing and social assistance to the occupants of the affected premises, having regard to their eligibility.

     The BD has already conducted registration for the occupants of the illegal SDFs in the industrial building at Nos 78 and 78A, Larch Street and has assisted those eligible in applying for the relocation allowance provided by the Community Care Fund. Eligible occupants whose monthly household incomes are less than the specified income limit or whose families have already passed the household-based means test under specified assistance schemes can apply for the relocation allowance.  To date, the BD has received a total of 37 applications.  The Department has approved 31 of the applications and has informed the successful applicants that they may collect the relocation allowance at BDíŽs office starting from today.

     The spokesman said that any person who had successfully applied for the relocation allowance provided by the Community Care Fund would not be eligible for such allowance again.  Furthermore, the department would also record the addresses of those industrial buildings in respect of which relocation allowance had already been released to the occupants.  Other occupants who move in to these addresses in future will not be eligible for the allowance.  Details of the programme have been uploaded to the websites of the Community Care Fund (www.communitycarefund.hk/en/assistance.asp) and the BD (www.bd.gov.hk/chineseT/services/index_RAS.html) for public reference.

     The spokesman again warned owners of industrial buildings against changing their units to domestic use.  Furthermore, for their own safety, occupants of such sub-divided units should move out of the units as soon as possible, while others should refrain from living in industrial buildings.  Any person who makes rental arrangements should also inquire about the approved intended use of the unit and avoid renting and living in premises only intended for industrial use.  To ascertain the approved intended use of the premises, prospective tenants should pay attention to the name and location of the building, the interior design of the premises and as needed, to check the occupation permit, approved building plans and other relevant information about a building through the search services of the Land Registry or the BRAVO system of the BD if they are in doubt.

Ends/Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Issued at HKT 11:20

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