It is the Government’s long-held position that owners are primarily responsible for the timely and proper maintenance of their buildings. That said, we also recognise that some owners, in particular those residing in aged “three nil” buildings 1, may lack the technical knowledge or financial means in undertaking that responsibility. Against this backdrop, the Government announced on 11 October 2019 proposed funding injections and various enhancements to four existing subsidy schemes on building safety and rehabilitation, three of which are under DEVB’s purview. Details of the enhancements could be found vide the following link –
While the Government would brief the Panel on the funding injections and enhancements shortly, highlighted below are the major directions of the enhancements –
- on Operation Building Bright 2.0 (OBB 2.0), we plan to double the commitment to $6 billion with a view to increasing the number of buildings to benefit from the initiative from around 2 500 to around 5 000. We plan to extend the second round of applications, which is scheduled for the third quarter of 2020, to eligible domestic buildings aged between 40 and 49 with outstanding MBIS notice(s) for the common parts of the buildings, on top of all eligible domestic buildings aged 50 or above. Our target is to commence the prescribed inspection and repair works of all participating buildings in seven years’ time;
- regarding the Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owner (BMGSEO), which is an ongoing scheme launched in 2008, we plan to inject an additional $2 billion. Besides, we plan to enhance the depth and breadth of assistance to needy owner-occupiers by (i) increasing the level of the maximum grant from the current $40,000 per case to $80,000 per case; (ii) uplifting the prevailing asset limit from two times of the asset limit for Normal Old Age Allowance (Normal OALA) 2 to three times; and (iii) extending the scope of beneficiaries to cover non-elderly owner-occupiers who are recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance or Disability Allowance subject to appropriate income and asset tests; and
- on Lift Modernisation Subsidy Scheme (LIMSS), the Government plans to allocate an additional $2 billion to subsidise the modernisation of 3 000 more lifts. We further propose that outreach services be provided to needy residents (e.g. the aged and the disabled) affected by lift modernisation works especially for buildings with single lift or floors served by one lift only including, e.g. delivery of food and meals and provision of stair-climber services. We will collaborate with Construction Industry Council (CIC) to arrange an appropriate training scheme to attract new blood to join the lift industry and target to roll out the scheme orderly over seven years to avoid inflating market prices or affecting works quality.
Enforcement against dangerous and abandoned signboards
In order to take advantage of latest technologies in the enforcement against the erection of unauthorised signboards, Buildings Department (BD) will commission a consultancy early next year for completion in second half of 2022 to explore the following directions –
Besides, BD will also step up prosecution against non-compliance with removal orders, and deploy more resources to remove dangerous and abandoned signboards where the signboard owners have failed to comply with Dangerous Structure Removal Notices3 , to better protect public safety.
- engaging patrolling vehicles equipped with photo-imaging or 3D scanning equipment and employment of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the captured images with a view to enabling automatic identification of dangerous and abandoned signboards;
- utilising big data in the public realm (such as property transaction and lease records on commercial premises) to identify new businesses that may require erection of signboards, such that those contemplating such erection would be reminded of their obligations at an early stage; and
- employing AI-aided Optical Character Recognition Technology to establish a centralised database on all legal signboards to facilitate effective enforcement actions and encourage public monitoring.
1 Viz. buildings which do not have an owners’ corporation or residents’ organisations, or having engaged any property management company.
2 The prevailing asset limit for Normal OALA is $343,000 for single person and $520,000 for married couples.
3 BD may issue (a) Dangerous Structure Removal Notices (DSRNs) under Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) if the signboards identified are posing imminent danger to the public and warrant immediate enforcement action; (b) removal orders under the Buildings Ordinance (BO) (Cap. 123) if the signboards are considered dangerous or prone to become dangerous or are new signboards, or (c) priority demolition orders under the BO if the signboards are large and in serious breach of law. In the five years’ period from 2014 to 2018, BD issued some 3 800 removal orders and some 3 800 DSRNs, some 12 000 unauthorised, dangerous or abandoned signboards were rectified during the same period.