Lands Department steps up enforcement and public education in respect of unauthorised structures on private agricultural land
The Lands Department (LandsD) launched a new set of TV and radio Announcements in the Public Interest (APIs) today (October 27) to remind land owners of the losses and serious consequences relating to erecting unauthorised structures in breach of land leases on private agricultural land and unlawful occupation of government land (including unlawful structures thereon). The APIs also appeal to the public to pay more attention when purchasing or renting structures on agricultural land.
"We remind land owners that breaches of lease conditions will lead to re-entry of the relevant land, and any person who unlawfully occupies government land will be prosecuted. We also urge members of the public who intend to purchase or rent structures erected on agricultural land to seek independent professional advice beforehand to ascertain that the structures fully comply with the relevant regulations. Otherwise, they may face losses or liability in the event of enforcement action by the Government against unauthorised or unlawful structures," a spokesman for the department said.
Apart from public education, LandsD has stepped up enforcement action against unauthorised structures erected on private agricultural land. The department has re-entered two private agricultural lots since April this year and is handling 15 other cases in which final warnings have been given, pending re-entry action. LandsD has also completed demolition of unauthorised structures in 39 cases (involving about 50 private lots). Among these, the demolition works for 31 cases were conducted by the relevant land owners while those for eight cases were undertaken by the Government.
LandsD's enhanced enforcement action includes:
(1) Once it has come to LandsD's attention that an unauthorised structure is being erected on private agricultural land, it will issue a statutory notice under the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance (Cap. 28) requiring the lot owner to stop the works and demolish any uncompleted structures on-site within one week. If the lot owner fails to comply, LandsD will proceed with demolition under Cap. 28 with a view to demolishing such structures before they are occupied, while the relevant costs will be recovered from the lot owners. To enhance the effectiveness of the measures, LandsD will under no circumstances accept any application for regularisation of unauthorised structures under construction;
(2) For unauthorised structures on private agricultural land which have been completed and where the breach is not purged despite encumbrance imposed in the relevant land ownership history at the Land Registry, LandsD will proceed with re-entry of the private agricultural land under the lease and the Government Rights (Re-entry and Vesting Remedies) Ordinance (Cap. 126). The Government will continue to take legal action against the unlawful occupier after the land is re-entered; and
(3) If it is suspected that estate agents may have been involved in the sale or rental of unauthorised structures, including individual units therein, LandsD will refer such cases to the Estate Agents Authority for follow-up action.
Ends/Monday, October 27, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:01