LCQ15: Addition or alteration works in private buildingsFollowing is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 20):
Regarding addition or alteration works carried out in private buildings, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of applications received in each of the past five years by the Buildings Department (BD) for carrying out the aforesaid works and, among them, the number of those proposed to be carried out in the common areas of buildings without the consent of owners’ corporations (OCs), owners' committees or other co-owners of the buildings concerned, as well as the number of works proposed to be carried out in private premises without the consent of the owners of the premises concerned; together with a breakdown by the category of works and the outcome of the application;
(b) whether BD has, when approving addition or alteration works to be carried out in the common areas and private premises of buildings, required the applicants to take out public liability insurance for the works and structures concerned so as to protect the public;
(c) when BD has learnt that public safety will be affected by the addition or alteration works carried out in the common areas of buildings without the consent of the OCs, owners' committees or co-owners concerned, whether it will inform the Home Affairs Department so that the latter will send staff to assist the OCs, owners' committees or co-owners concerned to follow up; and
(d) what measures the authorities have in place to assist OCs, owners' committees and co-owners in stopping addition or alteration works from being carried out without their consent in the common areas of the buildings concerned, so as to protect public safety and the rights of the owners concerned?
The reply to the four-part question is as follows:
(a) In the past five years, the Buildings Department (BD) has received a total of 7,925 applications for vetting and approving building plans in respect of addition or alteration works proposed to be carried out in private buildings (including residential, commercial, industrial and composite buildings). Of these applications, 6,976 have been approved by the Building Authority. The details are shown in the following table:
No. of applications
for vetting and
plans for addition No. of
or alteration works applications
Year (Note) approved
---- ------------------- ------------
2004 1,166 958
2005 1,437 1,234
2006 1,681 1,431
2007 1,869 1,729
2008 1,772 1,624
Total 7,925 6,976
(Note : An application submitted in a particular year may not necessarily be approved in the same year.)
The BD has no records as to whether the applicants have obtained consents from the owners' corporations (OCs), owners' committees or building owners for carrying out the relevant works. Neither does the BD have statistical breakdown on the nature of the addition or alteration works mentioned above.
(b) Building management is the fundamental responsibility of owners. The Administration has been, through various channels, reminding OCs and owners of the safety matters that they should pay attention to when carrying out building works, including the importance of procurement of suitable public liability insurance. Although the main objective of the Buildings Ordinance (Cap 123) (BO) is to regulate the safety and health standards of private buildings and matters relating to building management and procurement of public liability insurance are not covered by it, to ensure public safety, the BD will request contractors to take necessary precautionary measures when granting approval of building plans and consent to the commencement of the works if the concerned works are to be carried out in the common areas of a building. In implementing the minor works control system, the BD will also remind the public of the importance of procuring insurance through a series of public education programmes. The Home Affairs Department will continue to proactively encourage OCs and other owners' organisations to procure third party risk insurance for the common parts of their buildings so as to safeguard the interest of the owners and the public.
(c) If the BD, in the course of vetting and approving building plans, finds that the relevant building works are to be carried out in the common parts of a building which has established an OC or engaged a management company, the Department will send a letter to inform the OC or management company after approving the plans. The BD will also draw the applicant’s attention to section 14(2) of the BO, i.e. neither the approval of any plans nor the consent to commencement of any works given by the BD shall be deemed to confer any title to land, or to act as a waiver of any term in any lease or licence. The applicant should on its own obtain consent from the OC or owners of the building before carrying out the works in the common parts of the building.
Besides, if the BD receives a complaint about unauthorised building works in progress and confirms after investigation that there are building works in the common parts of the buildings not approved by the BD, the Department will send an advisory letter to the concerned owners/occupiers advising them to cease the unauthorised works. To facilitate the OC to follow up, the BD is planning to copy the relevant advisory letter to the concerned OC and the local District Office. If needed, the OC may contact the local District Office to seek opinion and assistance. If the concerned parties do not observe the advice, the BD will take appropriate follow-up actions in accordance with the existing enforcement policy against unauthorised building works.
(d) To safeguard the interest of owners in the common parts of a building, the Building Management Ordinance (Cap 344) stipulates relevant provisions to prohibit any person from converting the common parts of a building to his own use without the consent of the owners’ committee or the OC. The Building Management Ordinance also empowers an OC to maintain the common parts of the building in a state of good and serviceable repair condition, and to carry out any renovation, improvement or decoration works to the common parts of the building. If any person carries out addition or alteration works to the common parts of the building without the consent of the OC, the OC can stop or restore the works and claim damages from the concerned party. If needed, an OC can visit the Hong Kong Housing Society’s Property Management Advisory Centres to seek free legal advice.
The Administration will continue to enhance publicity and education. For instance, during the implementation of the minor works control system, the BD will include in the specified form to be submitted to the Building Authority by the registered contractors a remark reminding owners that they should consult other co-owners before carrying out works in the common parts of a building and should be mindful of the civil liabilities under the deed of mutual covenant of the building.
Ends/Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:01