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LCQ19: Co-ordinated Maintenance of Buildings Scheme

Following is a question by the Hon Starry Lee Wai-king and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 17):

Question:

Under the Co-ordinated Maintenance of Buildings Scheme implemented by the Buildings Department in association with the Hong Kong Housing Society and several government departments, the authorities will, having regard to the unauthorised building works on the external walls and the dilapidation in the common areas of the buildings, select target buildings and then require the owners or owners' corporations concerned to carry out repair and maintenance works.  If the required works are not commenced within a reasonable period of time, the relevant departments will take joint enforcement actions.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  in respect of each District Council district in each of the past three years, of the respective numbers of buildings selected as target buildings, those with the relevant works completed and those with works not yet completed, and the respective numbers of repair orders issued and prosecutions instituted against owners for non-compliance with the repair orders; as well as the penalties generally imposed on the convicted owners;

(b)  of the average and longest time taken between designation of the target building and completion of the required works since the implementation of the above scheme in 2000, with a breakdown of the completed cases by the number of years taken; the current number of cases not yet completed and among them, those in which the buildings have been selected as target buildings for more than five years;

(c)  whether it will set a time limit for target buildings to complete the repair and maintenance works; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(d)  of the respective numbers of applications made by the owners of target buildings over the past three years under the Building Safety Loan Scheme, Building Management and Maintenance Incentive Schemes, Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owners and Building Rehabilitation Schemes for loans or grants, the total amounts granted under each scheme and the number of flats the owners of which have not repaid the loans and the authorities have therefore registered charges against their interests in the Land Registry?

Reply:

President,

Since November 2000, the Buildings Department (BD), in association with six other Government departments (namely the Home Affairs Department, Fire Services Department, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Water Supplies Department and Environmental Protection Department), selected about 150 target buildings under the "Co-ordinated Maintenance of Buildings Scheme" (CMBS) annually to assist the building owners in pursuing a comprehensive building management and maintenance programme.  Starting from 2005, the BD invited the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) to provide free advice to the owners concerned, and the Chinese title of the CMBS was renamed.

The reply to the four-part question is as follows:

(a)  In the past three years, the number of buildings selected as target buildings under the CMBS annually in each District Council district is shown in Annex 1.

The CMBS covers a wide scope of works and aims to enhance the overall standards of buildings.  Apart from structural safety of buildings, multiple areas of works such as fire services, electrical installations, lifts and fresh water pipes are also included.  Of the buildings mentioned above, as at November 2008, there are a total of 125 buildings with all the required works completed.  As for the other 328 buildings, the relevant works are progressing at different stages.  In the past three years, a total of 298 building and drainage repair orders were issued for the target buildings under the CMBS.

In accordance with the Buildings Ordinance (Cap 123), any person who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with a repair order shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for one year.  In addition, there is a further fine of $5,000 for each day during which the failure to comply with the order has continued.  In the past three years, there were a total of six cases involving prosecution against failures to comply with repair orders with fines ranging from $10,000 to $23,000.  There was no case resulting in imprisonment.

(b)  As mentioned above, the CMBS covers a wide scope of works and target buildings have to complete all the works in different areas in accordance with the requirements imposed by the authorities.  Of the cases handled by the BD in the past, many buildings had not established owners' corporations (OCs) or management bodies.  Some owners were not willing to pay for works to be carried out in the common areas, making it more difficult for the works to commence.  The Government therefore launched the Comprehensive Building Safety Improvement Loan Scheme in 2001 to provide owners with loans for funding the works.  Since 2005, the BD, in conjunction with the HKHS, has been offering owners further support, including helping them to form OCs and providing them with further financial assistance.  In 2008, the Government launched the Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owners to provide eligible elderly owners with building maintenance grants.  In addition, the BD will, having regard to the actual circumstances, handle cases with discretion by giving owners more time to form OCs, collect funds and make preparations for the carrying out of works.

Since the implementation of the CMBS in 2000, the average and longest time taken between designation of the target building and completion of all the required works in different areas have been around three and a half years and seven and a half years respectively.  An analysis of the buildings with works completed in accordance with the number of years required is as follows:

     No. of Years Taken     No. of Buildings
     ------------------     ----------------
     Within 1 year                    4
     Within 2 years                  51
     Within 3 years                 164
     Within 4 years                 189
     Within 5 years                 172

Currently, there are 482 cases with works progressing at different stages.  Among them, there are seven cases in which works have taken for more than five years and have not yet been completed.  The BD will continue to follow up these cases.

(c)  As regards the time for the completion of maintenance works of target buildings, the BD will generally encourage the owners of target buildings with OCs established to complete the works within 18 months, and those without OCs within 30 months.  The BD, together with the HKHS, will render assistance to the owners and exercise discretion in determining the time limit in special cases.

(d)  With respect to the CMBS, the numbers of applications received and approved under the various schemes offered by the Government and other organisations over the past three years and the total amounts granted are shown in Annex 2.

Regarding the Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owners, since the Scheme is aimed at assisting individual elderly owners, including those eligible ones who have received loans before the launch of the Scheme and are currently making repayments, we do not have a breakdown differentiating the applications regarding the CMBS.  From May 2008 when the Scheme was introduced to end-November 2008, a total of 2,871 applications have been received and the total amount granted and to be granted is $25,400,000.  Since the Scheme is to provide eligible elderly with grants without the need for repayment, there are no cases requiring registration of charge.

Ends/Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Issued at HKT 14:31

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