The Lands Department (LandsD) commenced the risk-based enforcement action against lease breaches involving the change of uses in industrial buildings today (August 29).
On July 15, the Government announced the risk-based enforcement arrangements against lease breaches in industrial buildings, making it clear that starting from August 29, cases involving uses in breach of the lease and posing a greater potential risk to safety will be prioritised in the first round of the LandsD's enforcement action. Specifically, cases matching the following two considerations, namely (i) the uses in breach of the lease attract members of the public (“the flow of people”) and (ii) there are other premises in the same industrial building currently issued with Licences for Manufacture and/or Storage of Dangerous Goods (DGLs) by the Fire Services Department (FSD), will be targeted for the first round of the department's enforcement action.
A spokesman for LandsD said, as indicated in the press release of July 15, the premises issued with DGLs are scattered across more than 200 industrial buildings. If the District Lands Offices (DLOs) have identified cases in breach of the lease attracting the flow of people in these industrial buildings, the cases will be targeted for enforcement action in the first round as well.
On the first day of action, DLOs inspected 11 industrial buildings (i.e. the six industrial buildings of the known cases in July and five other industrial buildings later identified to have suspected cases as listed in the table below). Inspection findings reveal that of the 73 known cases matching or suspected to have matched the above two considerations, 19 cases have ceased the uses in breach of the lease, while 20 cases are still in breach of the lease; and 34 suspected cases require further investigation. The DLO concerned will be issuing a warning letter to the owner of the industrial building unit confirmed to have breached the lease, requiring rectification of the breach of uses within 14 days. Should the owner fail to rectify the breach upon expiry of the warning period, DLO will commence the procedures to re-enter the unit. A copy of the warning letter will be sent to the occupier of the unit for reference and posted near the unit to keep operators and those patronising industrial building premises in breach of the lease aware of the Government’s enforcement actions.
|No||Name of Industrial Buildings|
|1||Chung Hing Industrial Mansions, San Po Kong|
|2||Yuen Fat Industrial Building, Kowloon Bay|
|3||Tai Ping Industrial Centre (Block 1), Tai Po|
|4||Tak Lee Industrial Centre, Tuen Mun|
|5||Wah Fung Industrial Centre, Kwai Chung|
|6||Shield Industrial Centre, Tsuen Wan|
|7||Meyer Industrial Building (Block 1), Kwun Tung|
|8||Goodluck Industrial Centre, Cheung Sha Wan|
|9||Ming Pao Industrial Centre (Block A), Chai Wan|
|10||Honour Industrial Centre, Chai Wan|
|11||On Ho Industrial Building, Tai Wai|
Regarding cases previously confirmed to be in breach of the lease, even if DLO staff cannot enter the industrial building unit concerned to ascertain whether the non-conforming uses have been rectified or not, DLOs will issue a warning letter to the owner of the unit according to the evidence collected earlier, requiring rectification of the uses within 14 days. The LandsD urges the owner to contact DLOs before expiry of the warning period so that DLO staff can enter the unit for site inspection to confirm the rectification, otherwise DLOs will commence the procedures to re-enter the unit.
The spokesman further reminded members of the public that the information on the premises issued with DGLs by FSD is updated from time to time. If the use in breach of the lease falls within the category which attracts flow of people, while other premises in the same industrial building are issued with DGLs, LandsD will escalate its enforcement action and deal with the case stringently. For enquiries about which industrial building has premises which have been issued with DGLs by FSD, please refer to the information uploaded on the websites of FSD and LandsD.
The spokesman once again called upon land owners to ensure that the use of their land is in compliance with the lease conditions and to rectify the breaches as soon as possible so as to safeguard public safety and prevent re-entry of their property. Those who patronise industrial building premises which are in breach of lease conditions should also stop doing so for their own safety and that of their family members.
The department said that uses in breach of the lease attracting the flow of people include learning centres, places of entertainment/recreation, shops, restaurants, religious gathering places, etc. The department also emphasised that the regulatory arrangement aims at protecting the safety of the public such as learners and customers accessing the units because an obvious risk will be posed to these members of the public if the units are located in industrial buildings which have premises issued with DGLs by FSD.
In other words, the arrangement to enhance enforcement is targeted at units in breach of the lease matching the two considerations mentioned above instead of an across-the-board measure to re-enter units against all cases in breach of the lease. As for other categories of lease breaches in industrial buildings (including industrial building premises to which members of the public are attracted but without DGLs issued by FSD at other premises in the same industrial building, and cases with breaches of uses not attracting the flow of people, such as offices and self-occupied cultural/creative workshops), LandsD will continue with the current arrangement. In general, DLOs will issue a warning letter to the owners requiring them to rectify the breach of uses within 28 days. If the breach is not rectified upon expiry of the warning period, DLOs will register the warning letter at the Land Registry, and reserve the right to take further lease enforcement action in the next round of action.
The LandsD has also notified licensing authorities, including the Education Bureau, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Home Affairs Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, of the risk-based enforcement arrangements, so that they may take appropriate action under their respective licensing regimes on the cases targeted for first round enforcement. DLOs have recently referred known cases targeted for first round enforcement to the relevant authorities to take appropriate follow-up action.
Ends/Monday, August 29, 2016
Issued at HKT 21:07