Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ19: Assisting owners of old buildings without owners' corporations in carrying out building repair works

     Following is a question by the Hon Christopher Chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (March 19):


     Earlier, some property owners living in old and dilapidated buildings sought my assistance, saying they had recently received statutory orders (Orders) issued by the Buildings Department (BD) and the Fire Services Department, requiring them to carry out specified works on repairs and enhancement of fire protection measures for their buildings.  However, despite the assistance provided by the Home Affairs Department and a number of owners' meetings having been convened, no owners' corporation (OC) had been formed for the buildings concerned to co-ordinate the works and collect funds for such works.  These owners are worried that they may be prosecuted for not complying with the Orders.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the specific measures taken to assist the aforesaid owners in forming OCs before the expiry of the time limits set for the works concerned; the measures taken to assist individual owners of such buildings in complying with the Orders in the event that OCs cannot be formed all along;

(2) given that at present, BD will make advance payments and carry out necessary repair works on behalf of the owners only in those cases of emergency, owners' default of an Order or serious nuisance on hygiene, whether the authorities will examine establishing a mechanism whereby individual owners can apply to BD for the department to carry out the works for their buildings as set out in the relevant Orders and afterwards recover the costs from the various owners; and

(3) whether, in the past five years, the authorities took mandatory building management measures under sections 40B or 40C of the Building Management Ordinance (Cap. 344) for those buildings with serious management problems which posed a danger or risk of danger to their occupiers or owners; if so, of the details of such cases, including how the authorities determined if "there is a danger or risk of danger" to the occupiers or owners?



     To ensure structural safety and upgrade fire safety of buildings, the Buildings Department (BD) and the Fire Services Department (FSD) may, when necessary, issue statutory orders to individual buildings under the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123) and the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance (Cap. 572) respectively to require the owners to carry out specified works to repair the buildings or to enhance basic fire safety facilities.

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

(1) According to FSD and BD, if no owners' corporations (OCs) have been formed in the building to which a statutory order is served, they will refer the cases to relevant district offices (DOs) with the view to help the owners to form an OC.  

     District Building Management Liaison Teams (DBMLTs), which are tasked to provide dedicated support and assistance to the owners in dealing with building management matters, have been set up in all DOs.  DBMLTs will visit private buildings from time to time to advise and support owners in formation of OCs and other building management matters.

     To meet the special needs of old "three-nil" buildings (i.e. buildings which do not have an OC or any form of residents organisations and have not engaged any property management company) with low rateable values, the Home Affairs Department (HAD) has introduced the Building Management Professional Advisory Service Scheme (BMPASS) in 2011.  Under the BMPASS, HAD has commissioned property management companies to provide owners of 1 200 "three-nil" buildings with free professional advisory services on building management and safety, which include to pay household visits, assist the owners to form OCs, apply for various building maintenance subsidy schemes and loans, and assist in conducting building maintenance works.  In the past three years, the BMPASS has formed or reactivated 148 OCs, the results of which far exceed our original targets.  In view of its encouraging results and support by owners of old buildings, local communities and district council members, HAD will launch the second phase of the BMPASS in April this year to serve and assist a new batch of 1 200 "three-nil" buildings.  Priority will be given to buildings which have been served with statutory orders.

     Moreover, HAD has implemented the Resident Liaison Ambassador (RLA) Scheme to recruit owners and residents of "three-nil" buildings as RLAs.  RLAs will organise the owners and residents to deal with daily building management issues on one hand, and act as a bridge between the Government and the owners/residents on the others.  So far, more than 1 000 ambassadors have been recruited from over 520 "three-nil" buildings.  Through the network of RLAs, HAD has also succeeded in promoting the formation of OCs.

     As advised by BD and FSD, building owners are usually given one year to comply with the Fire Safety Directions (FS Directions) issued pursuant to the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance (Cap. 572).  In case the owners need more time to prepare for and carry out the improvement works (including formation of OCs), the departments concerned will, without compromising the basic fire safety, adopt a flexible and pragmatic approach in handling individual cases, and give reasonable consideration to applications for extending the compliance period of the FS Directions taking account of various factors such as the scale of works and justifications provided by the owners.  As for individual building for which full compliance with the requirements is not possible due to structural or spatial constraints, BD and FSD may, having regard to individual circumstances and information furnished by the owners/OCs or their authorised persons, consider reviewing some of the requirements in a flexible manner or accepting the alternative proposal put forward by the owners in the light of individual cases and the information submitted.  BD and FSD are prepared to meet with owners/OCs or the authorised persons they have engaged to explain to them the requirements of improvement works under the FS Directions and assist them in solving potential problems associated with the engineering works.

     If the owners of building which does not have an OC but served with statutory orders under the Buildings Ordinance are unable to line up the required maintenance works and consequently fail to comply with the statutory orders before the deadline, BD may, where there are obvious dangers to the buildings or in case of emergency, arrange Government contractors to carry out the necessary repair works in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance and recover the full cost of the works, together with a supervision charge and a surcharge of not exceeding 20 per cent on the cost of the works, from the owners upon completion of the works.

     In addition, the Hong Kong Housing Society and the Urban Renewal Authority have jointly administered the Integrated Building Maintenance Assistance Scheme to provide owners of old buildings with financial assistance and technical support for building maintenance.  Eligible buildings (even they do not have OCs) may apply for Common Area Repair Works Subsidy or Common Area Repair Works Interest-free Loan under the scheme to carry out repair works required for the common areas.  The owners may also apply for Owners' Corporation Formation Subsidy to form an OC.  

(2) Owners have the responsibility on timely repair and maintenance of their buildings.  As mentioned above, there are mechanisms in place under BD for arranging Government contractors to carry out the necessary repair works in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance if the owners fail to comply with an order and when there are obvious dangers to the buildings or in case of emergency.  As far as the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance is concerned, the requirement to carry out such works is to enhance the fire safety of target buildings to modern standards, but it does not mean that those buildings have imminent or obvious fire hazards.  There is no provision in the Ordinance empowering the enforcement authorities to carry out works for upgrading fire safety standard at target buildings and then to recover costs from the parties concerned upon completion of works. Generally speaking, in the absence of power conferred by law, consent must be obtained from all owners (specific arrangement subject to the deeds of mutual covenant) before maintenance and repair works can be carried out for the common areas of a building without an OC.  In such circumstances, Government departments or other organisations are not in a position to carry out such works on the owners' behalf despite the consent from individual owners.

(3) Under Section 40B of the Building Management Ordinance (the Ordinance), in cases where no person is managing a building, the management committee (MC) has failed to perform the duties of a corporation under the Ordinance and there is a danger or risk of danger to the occupiers or owners of the building, the authority may order the MC to appoint a building management agent for the purposes of managing that building.  It is stipulated under Section 40C of the Ordinance that in cases where an MC has not been appointed under Section 3, 3A or 4 of the Ordinance, no person is managing a building and there is a danger or risk of danger to the occupiers or owners of the building, the authority may apply to the Lands Tribunal for assigning an owner as the convenor of a meeting of owners for the purposes of appointing an MC or building management agent by the owners.  If no MC or building management agent is appointed at the meeting of owners, the convenor may appoint a building management agent directly.

     In the past five years, there were no such cases in which the authority had to exercise the powers under Section 40B or 40C of the Ordinance in the light of a danger or risk of danger posed by buildings with serious management problems to the occupiers or owners of the buildings.

Ends/Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:35


Print this page