Operators and managers fined for illegal guesthouse operations

     Four women and two men were fined $3,000 to $5,000 at the Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts today (August 1) for contravening the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance.

     The court heard that officers of the Office of the Licensing Authority (OLA), Home Affairs Department, inspected three suspected unlicensed guesthouses on Fuk Wing Street and Nathan Road in January this year. During the investigations, OLA officers posed as lodgers and successfully rented rooms in the three premises on a daily or an hourly basis.

     According to the OLA's records, the three guesthouses did not possess valid certificates of exemption or licences under the Ordinance on the inspection days. The operators and managers of the premises were charged with contravening section 5(1) of the Ordinance. In addition, the male operator of the guesthouse on Nathan Road was charged with contravening section 21(3)(b) of the Ordinance for operating the guesthouse in a place other than the address indicated in his licence.

     Moreover, OLA officers also inspected a licensed guesthouse on Nathan Road, Mong Kok, in January this year. They posed as lodgers and rented a room in an unlicensed guesthouse in the same building on a daily basis. The female operator was charged with contravening section 21(3)(b) of the Ordinance.

     A department spokesman stressed that it is a criminal offence to operate or manage an unlicensed guesthouse. Any person who is convicted of operating or managing an unlicensed guesthouse is liable to imprisonment. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a $200,000 fine and imprisonment for two years.

     The spokesman appealed to the public to report suspected illegal guesthouses to the OLA through the OLA hotline (2881 7498), or by email (hadlaenq@had.gov.hk) or fax (fax number: 2504 5805) using the report form downloaded from the website (www.hadla.gov.hk).

Ends/Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:17