Three men fined for illegal guesthouse operations

     Three men were fined from $4,500 to $9,000 at the Eastern Magistrates' Courts today (February 5) for contravening the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance (the Ordinance).

     The courts heard that in July and August last year, officers of the Office of the Licensing Authority (OLA), Home Affairs Department, inspected two suspected unlicensed guesthouses on King's Road in North Point and Lockhart Road in Wanchai. During the investigation, OLA officers posed as lodgers and successfully rented rooms in the guesthouses on a daily basis.

     According to the OLA's records, the guesthouses did not possess valid certificates of exemption or licences under the Ordinance on the days of inspection. Therefore, the two male operators of the guesthouses were charged with contravening section 5(1) of the Ordinance.

     Furthermore, OLA officers inspected a licensed guesthouse on Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, in June last year. The licence holder failed to present a licence or a certified copy, or the registered drawing of the guesthouse upon OLA officers' request. The officers also found that the actual layout of the premises deviated from the registered drawings and the alternation had not been approved by the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Authority. Conditions 2, 3, 16 and 17 of the licence were breached. Therefore, the licence holder was charged with contravening section 21(4) of the Ordinance.

     A department spokesman stressed that it is a criminal offence to operate or manage an unlicensed guesthouse. Any person 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.

     He appealed to the public to report suspected illegal guesthouses to the OLA through the OLA hotline (2881 7498), by email ( or fax (2504 5805) using the report form downloaded from the website (

Ends/Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:10