In response to several incidents involving fallen concrete or rendering from external walls of buildings and bringing to light the problem of non-compliance with statutory notices under the Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme (MBIS) (hereinafter known as “MBIS notices”), the Development Bureau (DEVB) has announced earlier a series of measures to step up enforcement and provide support for owners or owners’ corporations (OCs) of buildings, with a focus on following up on buildings with non-complied MBIS notices. This time, I have invited colleagues from the DEVB and the Buildings Department (BD) and a representative of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) to talk about the enhanced enforcement and support measures for owners or OCs.
Setting up a standing communication mechanism
Assistant Secretary (Building) of the DEVB, Mr CHEUNG Hin-man, German, says that so far there are some 2 700 buildings with expired MBIS notices that have not been complied with, and the DEVB and the BD have devised action strategies against those buildings. To strength the collaboration among the BD, the Home Affairs Department (HAD) and the URA, a standing communication mechanism has been set up under the leadership of the DEVB. The first meeting was held last month to follow up on work in various aspects.
Building Surveyor of the BD, Mr CHAN Ching-hin, Cookie, says that the BD will follow up on buildings with non-complied MBIS notices in four aspects:
1. Stepping up enforcement action
The department has issued letters to all the buildings with non-complied MBIS notices at the end of last month, requesting the relevant persons to report the progress or provide a concrete work plan within a month’s time. If there are no reasonable justifications and the progress is unsatisfactory, the department will commence prosecution proceedings against owners or OCs concerned in the fourth quarter of this year. However, if there are cases in which owners show an intention to procrastinate, the department will deal with such cases promptly and instigate prosecution proceedings as soon as possible. The owners must appoint registered inspectors (RIs) to carry out the prescribed inspection and repair works. The relevant registers are available in the BD’s website (https://www.bd.gov.hk/en/resources/online-tools/registers-search/).
2. Proactively conducting special inspections and emergency works
To reduce public safety risks, for the 900 buildings with RIs yet to be appointed, the department has taken the initiative to carry out special inspections of those building external walls with potentially higher risks by using drones since early August. If obvious hazards are found, the department will arrange for government contractors to carry out emergency works and remove the loosened part on behalf of the owners, and recover the relevant costs from the owners concerned afterwards. So far, the department has completed special inspections of the external walls of more than 30 buildings. The department will also engage building consultants to assist in carrying out special inspections on the external walls of more buildings with higher potentially risks.
Mr Cookie CHAN says that these special emergency operations could not replace the owners’ responsibilities for building maintenance; and the owners or OCs concerned are still required to conduct inspection and repair works in respect of other common areas of their buildings. The department will only take the initiative to intervene where necessary.
3. Inspection and repair works for Category 2 buildings under “Operation Building Bright 2.0”
The BD understands that some owners of buildings, particularly “three-nil buildings”, may have encountered practical problems in implementing or co-ordinating the prescribed inspection and repair works. Currently, about 1 100 higher-risk buildings are selected as Category 2 buildings under “Operation Building Bright 2.0” (OBB 2.0); Category 2 buildings refers to those with owners or OCs unable to co-ordinate the inspection and repair works on their own. The BD will continue to exercise its statutory power to carry out the inspection and repair works on behalf of the owners, and recover the relevant costs from the owners concerned afterwards. At present, repair works of about 30 buildings have completed, about 630 are undergoing the works, while about 440 are at the inspection stage. It is expected that the repair works of about 180 buildings will be completed by the end of this year.
As regards the above-mentioned 900 buildings with RIs yet to be appointed, about 200 are “three-nil buildings”. The BD will adopt a risk-based approach in selecting eligible buildings as Category 2 buildings under OBB 2.0.
4. Stepping up support for owners and strengthening public education
We understand that many owners are willing to comply with MBIS notices but simply lack the knowledge in building maintenance or support to do so. The BD, the URA and the HAD have enhanced support for OCs or owners by providing information, co-ordination as well as technical and financial support for them. Earlier on, the tripartite parties have successively organised district briefings in the Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Yau Tsim Mong and Central and Western districts to explain the procedures pertaining to compliance with MBIS notices, formation of OCs and application for subsidies from the URA.
In the district briefings, tripartite counters were set up to offer advice, information and support to members of the public in a face-to-face manner, providing information such as how to appoint RIs and contractors and hold owners’ general meetings. The briefings have received positive response from the participants. In the coming months, we will organise more briefings in other districts where there are buildings with non-complied MBIS notices. Members of the public may keep track of the information online and watch the past briefings (https://elearning.bd.gov.hk/video-list/聯合地區講座).
URA’s implementation of OBB 2.0 with $6 billion injected by the Government
Senior Manager (Building Rehabilitation) of the URA, Mr Peter Dy, says that the URA has implemented OBB 2.0 with $6 billion injected by the Government with a view to subsidising eligible owners to co-ordinate the inspection and repair works under the MBIS.
To complement the work of the BD, the URA has, through district organisations, proactively approached owners of eligible buildings with non-complied MBIS notices for participation in OBB 2.0 and assisted them in applying for the subsidies. Besides, the URA will formulate more detailed progress requirements for building owners, OCs or property management companies to comply, so as to closely monitor and supervise the progress of preparation for repair works.
The third-round application for OBB 2.0 will end at the end of September. Owners who wish to join the scheme are welcome to visit the webpage of Building Rehabilitation Platform of the URA (https://brplatform.org.hk/en) for details. Members of the public are also welcome to visit the Building Rehabilitation Resource Centre in person. The staff will provide one-stop building rehabilitation related information and assistance services, including tendering and estimation of project cost.
In fact, building maintenance and building management are inseparable. The HAD will provide information about building management for the OCs or owners of buildings with non-complied MBIS notices to remind them to comply with the MBIS notices. If owners of a building wish to form an OC, the HAD will provide suitable support for them.
I believe that through the collaboration of various government departments/institutions and the support of owners who actively undertake their responsibilities for building maintenance, we can do better in the building maintenance work so that residents can live in greater peace of mind and public safety can be better protected.
17 September, 2023Back