High-rise tenants may lose leases over falling objects

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2006, 12:00am

The Housing Authority has vowed to step up action to prevent objects being thrown from the windows of high-rises. It will also check footage from a closed-circuit camera at a Ngau Tau Kok housing estate to identify who had dropped iron bars from a window, injuring a teenager on Sunday.

Just five hours after the authority announced the hunt yesterday, however, a two-metre mattress and a plastic bag containing five empty aluminium cans were thrown from another building in the same complex, Lok Wah Estate.

Police said they were dropped at about 4pm, but no one below was hit. The latest incident occurred at Wun Wah House in the same public housing estate as Man Wah House where the 15-year-old boy was injured on Sunday.

The Housing Authority warned it might immediately terminate the lease of the tenant responsible for hurting the boy.

'If a falling object causes injuries like the Sunday incident, we will end the lease with the guilty tenant immediately,' Lee Cert-quinn, Housing Authority chief manager for Kowloon East said in a press conference yesterday. He also said they would check videotapes to search for the guilty party, but it was not sure if cameras had captured the moment the iron bars were thrown.

'Usually, a camera's view can only cover the upper half of the building, and it can only monitor one facet of the building at one time,' he said.

Mr Lee said the department planned to focus harder on the problem of falling objects by fitting eight more high-resolution digital cameras this year - in addition to the two already in use - to monitor the exterior of residential buildings and estates. The cameras can detect the motion of any falling objects and alert duty officers automatically, he said.

The authority said that so far it had spent about $20 million on 108 sets of video recorders linked to 441 cameras to monitor high-rises in the 100-plus estates across the city. The positions of those cameras are regularly changed to provide a wider area of coverage.

Patrol teams of retired police officers have also been sent out to inspect different districts with telescopes and digital cameras.

'It is usually very hard to identify those who conduct such behaviour, as we can only monitor certain buildings in certain estates at one moment,' Mr Lee said.

'But we are very determined to keep fighting against these terrible acts, regardless of how much it costs.'

Since January, the authority has also toughened its rules on those found littering. Litterers will now get seven penalty points. Those whose littering endangers other people now receive 15 points. Tenants are evicted if they get 16 penalty points or more within two years.

It is estimated that a total of 57 families have received seven penalty points since 2003 as punishment for dropping litter from their homes. One other family received 15 demerit points in a case in which someone was hurt.