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Landlord convicted of overcharging subdivided unit tenants for water
     A landlord was convicted today (December 14) of overcharging his subdivided unit (SDU) tenants for water, in contravention of regulation 47 of the Waterworks Regulations (WWR). He pleaded guilty at the Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts and was fined $2,400. This is the third conviction case of overcharging since the amended WWR came into force in May 2021. The first and second conviction cases were recorded on June 1, 2022, and November 23, 2022, respectively.
     The Water Supplies Department (WSD) received a complaint in mid-May 2022 concerning overcharging SDU tenants for water of a flat on Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Upon completion of the investigation and evidence collection, prosecution was initiated against the person who contravened the relevant regulation. 
     According to the amended regulation 47 of the WWR, the registered consumer of the water account (usually the landlord) is only allowed to recover from the occupants of the premises (usually the tenants) the water charge paid to the WSD. If the amount recovered exceeds the water charge paid to the WSD, the registered consumer shall be guilty of an offence and be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000. 
     A WSD spokesman said that the Government is committed to combatting the illegal acts through an inter-departmental and multi-pronged approach. In addition to stepped-up inter-departmental joint inspections and improved application procedures for the installation of separate water meters, publicity and education efforts have also been strengthened, with a view to enhancing the deterrent effect in preventing SDU tenants from being overcharged for water by the landlord. 
     The spokesman said that the WSD has launched a pilot scheme and streamlined procedures to help the landlords install separate water meters for SDUs. While applications for installing separate water meters in SDUs are to be submitted by the landlords, the SDU tenants can also make a request directly to the WSD. The department will then approach the landlords concerned for follow-up actions and provide appropriate technical support. Details of the scheme can be obtained from the WSD's website.
     In case of any suspicion regarding overcharging for water, the public can report the cases to the WSD for investigation. A WhatsApp hotline at 5665 5517 has been set up to handle matters related to water overcharging in SDUs and installation of SDU separate water meters. Alternatively, the public can also call the WSD's Customer Enquiry Hotline at 2824 5000 to report water overcharge cases. After calling the hotline and choosing a language, they can press "7" for reporting to staff directly.
Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:40
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