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Closure order obtained on workspaces No. 1 and No. 2 on 2/F of Wing Fung Industrial Building

     The Buildings Department (BD) announced today (March 17) that in order to step up enforcement action against illegal sub-divided domestic flats (SDFs) in industrial buildings to protect public and occupants' safety, the BD was granted a closure order by the District Court to close Workspaces No. 1 and No. 2 on 2/F of Wing Fung Industrial Building, 40-50 Sha Tsui Road, Tsuen Wan. The BD applied for the closure order on March 17. The order granted to the BD will facilitate the demolition of the unauthorised building works (UBWs) on the workspaces and associated flat roofs by BD's government contractor and discontinue its domestic use.

     After obtaining the closure order, the BD attempted to close the units concerned with the assistance of the Police. Since the concerned occupants have not sought alternative accommodation, the Building Authority, taking into account the special circumstances, postponed the execution of the closure order to allow the concerned occupants to make arrangements for moving out. The BD stated that the closure order would be executed shortly, requiring all occupants to move out so as to facilitate the demolition of the UBWs by the government contractor.

     The BD stressed that changing industrial premises for domestic use poses a serious fire risk to the occupants, while the erection of partition walls may render the fire escape route in the premises inadequate. To ensure public safety, the BD needs to take stringent enforcement action against such irregularities.

     Wing Fung Industrial Building is a 27-storey building located at 40-50 Sha Tsui Road, with an occupation permit issued in March 1980. According to the approved building plans, the building was designed and constructed for industrial use. The building was one of the target buildings of BD's Large Scale Operation on Sub-divided Flats (LSO on SDFs). Earlier inspections carried out by BD staff revealed that the concerned workspaces and the associated flat roofs had been illegally altered into nine and 12 sub-divided cubicles respectively and its use had been changed from industrial to domestic.

     In view of the above, the BD served statutory orders under section 24(1) and section 25(2)(b) of the Buildings Ordinance (BO) in 2012, requiring the owner of the sub-divided flat to discontinue the present domestic use, as well as to demolish the concerned UBWs and reinstate the affected parts of the premises according to the approved plans.

     The BD had conducted registration for the occupants of the illegal sub-divided cubicles concerned from September 26, 2012, to October 4, 2012, and to assist those eligible to make an application for the one-off relocation allowance by the Community Care Fund. According to the records, seven eligible applications from occupants were received and the concerned allowance was released starting from late 2012.

     Owing to ownership changes, the BD served statutory orders under section 24(1) and section 25(2)(b) of the BO in July 2013, requiring the new owners of the sub-divided flats to discontinue the present domestic use, as well as to demolish the concerned UBWs and reinstate the affected parts of the premises according to the approved plans. As the owners failed to comply with the statutory orders upon expiry of the orders, the BD instigated prosecution against the owners. The owners were convicted and fined some HK$20,000 each by the Magistrates' Court in January 2014 and April 2014 respectively. As the owners have not carried out the required works after the Court fine, the BD instigated a second prosecution against them and the hearing was held on December 2014. The concerned owners pleaded guilty in Court and the adjudication is pending.

     In parallel, the Notices of Intention to apply for closure order were posted at conspicuous locations of the premises concerned in November 2014, stating that BD would apply for closure orders on March 17, 2015, from the District Court. The BD issued a press release in January 2015 on the enforcement action at the captioned premises and distributed copies of the Notices of Intention to apply for closure orders to the affected individual households. The BD then posted notices at the captioned premises in February 2015, stating that the BD will commence the demolition works and therefore all the occupants have to move out on or before the date of closure (today) and remove all their personal belongings from the captioned premises.

     Under the prevailing policy, the occupants moving out from the SDFs in industrial buildings or private buildings should seek alternative accommodation themselves. The concerned owner or lessor should resolve the tenancy matters with the affected occupants so as to facilitate prompt removal.

     Social workers from the BD have carried out home visits since October 2014 to explain to the occupants the details of the BD's enforcement action, arrange appropriate referrals for the eligible households and encourage the affected occupants to seek alternative accommodation themselves before the specified time.

     It has always been the Government's policy to ensure that no one will be rendered homeless due to its enforcement action. The occupants will be admitted to temporary accommodation in Po Tin Transit Centre, Tuen Mun, provided by the Housing Department (HD) if they are verified to have been rendered homeless as a result of the subject action.

     The BD has been maintaining close liaison with the Housing Department, the Social Welfare Department and the Home Affairs Department to offer appropriate assistance to the affected occupants. The BD reiterated that no one displaced by such 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 issued a reminder that any person who has successfully applied for the relocation allowance provided by the Community Care fund would not be eligible for such allowance again. Furthermore, the department will also record the addresses of those industrial buildings with relocation allowance released to the occupants. Other occupants who move in to these addresses in future will also not be eligible for the allowance. Details of the programme have been uploaded to the websites of the Community Care Fund ( and the BD ( for public reference.

     The BD would like to remind owners of industrial buildings again not to change their units to domestic use illegally, and warned that owners who contravene the relevant legislation or fail to comply with statutory orders may be prosecuted. Failure to comply with a removal order served under section 24(1) of the BO or a discontinuance order served under section 25(2)(b) of the BO without reasonable excuse are serious offences under the BO. The maximum penalty upon conviction, in case of a removal order, is a fine of HK$200,000 and one year's imprisonment, and a further fine of HK$20,000 for each day that the offence continues; in the case of a discontinuance order, the penalty is a fine at level five (at present HK$50,000) and one year's imprisonment, and a further fine of HK$5,000 if the offence continues.

     Furthermore, for their own safety, occupants of such sub-divided flats should move out of the flats as soon as possible while others should refrain from attempting to live in industrial buildings. Any person who makes rental arrangements should also enquire about the approved intended use of the unit and should not rent and live 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, where necessary, 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, March 17, 2015
Issued at HKT 18:45


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