LCQ12: Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) (Specification of Lower Percentage) NoticeFollowing is a question by the Hon James To Kun-sun and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 24):
The Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) (Specification of Lower Percentage) Notice (the Notice) came into effect on April 1, 2010. At the briefing on the 2010-2011 Policy Address, the Secretary for Development said that Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) was currently providing free information service on the compulsory sale process under the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance (Cap. 545) (the Ordinance), while the Government would engage on a pilot basis a social welfare agency to provide out-reach services for elderly owners of old buildings and later this year launch a video documentary on the Ordinance. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it knows, when members of the public ask HKHS if the buildings they are residing in fall within the scope of the Notice, whether HKHS would assist the enquirers in understanding the specific situations of their buildings (including the building's specific distribution of property ownership), and inform them if the buildings they are residing in fall within the scope of the Notice; if HKHS will not do so, of the reasons for that;
(b) whether it knows the respective numbers of requests for assistance and enquiries received by HKHS to date (with a breakdown by District Council district), the contents and types of such cases, and the number of cases referred by HKHS to the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors as well as the contents and types of these cases;
(c) of the progress of the engagement of a social welfare agency by the Government to provide out-reach services for elderly owners of old buildings, when the services will commence, whether the scope of such services will include assisting the clients to ascertain if the buildings they are residing in (particularly those old buildings that have no owners' incorporations) fall within the scope of the Notice;
(d) in launching the video documentary on the Ordinance, whether the Government will step up public education to help the public distinguish if the buildings they are residing in fall within the scope of the Notice, and understand which government departments they can approach for assistance on this matter; and
(e) whether it knows, after the Notice has come into effect, if there are cases in which the developers or the companies concerned, having acquired almost 80% of individual old buildings' property ownerships, have delayed the maintenance and repair works for such buildings; whether HKHS and the authorities have measures targeted to assist the maintenance and repair works of these buildings to avoid the living environment and safety of the residents of these buildings being affected as a result of water leakage or dilapidation of the buildings?
My reply to the five-part question is as follows:
(a) When members of the public inquire if the buildings in which they are residing fall within the scope of the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) (Specification of Lower Percentage) Notice (the Notice) which took effect recently, the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) would explain to them what the three classes of land lot specified under the Notice are and how to ascertain if their buildings are situated in lots which belong to either of the three classes of lot. Whether the subject lot belongs to the first class of lot (i.e. a lot with units each of which accounts for more than 10% of the undivided shares in the lot) can be ascertained through the registration records of the Land Registry (LR). Whether the subject lot belongs to the second class of lot (i.e. a lot with all buildings aged 50 years or above) can be ascertained through the records of occupation permits kept by the Buildings Department (BD). As for the third class of lot (i.e. a lot that is not located within an industrial zone and with all the buildings on the lot being industrial buildings aged 30 years or above), it can be ascertained through the outline zoning plans available at the Planning Department (Plan D).
For inquiries on the specific circumstances of individual buildings, as the HKHS is not an organisation to offer legal or other professional advice, it will suggest the inquirers to seek independent legal or other professional advice.
(b) As at the end of October this year, the HKHS has received 183 inquiries about the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance (the Ordinance) and the Notice. A breakdown of the number of cases by district under the District Council demarcation and by content can be found in the Annex.
The HKHS has so far referred one inquiry case to the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS). The inquiry was mainly about the valuation criteria adopted by the majority owner when making an acquisition offer for the properties of the minority owners, how minority owners could protect their own rights and interests, and discussion on the main points of the major judgements handed down by the Lands Tribunal, etc. The HKIS has contacted the inquirer and taken appropriate follow-up action.
(c) We plan to engage a social welfare agency by the end of this year to provide outreach service for the elderly owners of old buildings to proactively explain to them the general practice of property acquisition and the procedures of compulsory sale under the Ordinance. The social welfare agency will also refer the cases of the elderly owners to the professionals, such as surveyors, for advice and assistance according to their wish. It is expected that the social welfare agency will launch such service in early 2011.
Given that elderly owners may find it difficult to conduct the necessary checking with the LR, the BD and the Plan D whether the buildings in which they are residing fall within any of the three classes of lot specified under the Notice, the social welfare agency to be engaged will also assist elderly owners in making the verification.
(d) The Development Bureau (DEVB) plans to launch a video explaining the Ordinance by the end of this year. The video will explain the scope of the Ordinance and the procedures of compulsory sale of land and properties in a simple and straightforward manner so as to help the affected owners understand their rights and the protection for them under the Ordinance. The video will also briefly explain what the three classes of lot specified under the Notice which took effect early this year are, and how to obtain further relevant information from the 10 Property Management Advisory Centres of the HKHS. The video will also explain to the public the support and assistance available, including explaining the role of the Estate Agents Authority (EAA) in regulating the estate agents' role when acquiring old buildings and the possible assistance that EAA can provide to the owners. The video will also introduce the pilot mediation scheme soon to be launched by the DEVB to let the public know that apart from applying to the Lands Tribunal for compulsory sale of a lot, the majority owners and the minority owners of the lot may reach agreement through mediation and thus avoid going through the hearing procedures of the Lands Tribunal.
(e) Building dilapidation is a common and serious problem in Hong Kong. We cannot confirm how many of such dilapidation cases are related to property acquisition. In any event, the BD will, having regard to the prevailing policy and its existing manpower, closely monitor building conditions, conduct regular building inspections, as well as handle complaints against dilapidated buildings in all districts across the territory. If problems concerning building safety are identified, enforcement action will be taken promptly, and where necessary, contractors will be engaged to carry out the required works on behalf of the owners, with the cost of the works recovered from the owners concerned afterwards in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance. Apart from government enforcement actions, the Urban Renewal Authority and the HKHS have put in place various schemes to assist owners of dilapidated buildings in carrying out maintenance works.
Ends/Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Issued at HKT 16:04