Lawmakers welcome checks on old buildings

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2007, 12:00am

Lawmakers have hailed the government's mandatory inspections for private buildings over 30 years old but have demanded the government provide more details.

Speaking during a planning, lands and works panel meeting in the Legislative Council yesterday, Democrat Lee Wing-tat supported the measures, which will be put in place as soon as 2009.

'What worries me is that some elderly property owners will not be able to afford the maintenance costs,' Mr Lee said.

The government has proposed compulsory checks by qualified inspectors every 10 years to certify the old buildings are safe. While the owners of about 80 per cent of these building would not have to pay the first inspection fee, they would have to pay for repairs if maintenance was necessary.

'Can the government pay the [maintenance] fee for these old people first if they really can't afford it?' Mr Lee asked. 'The government can write down the fee in the property's contract and require them to pay the fee when they have the money or when they sell the flat.'

Raymond Ho Chung-tai, who represents the engineering constituency, said the measures had already been discussed for more than eight years. 'I hope it can be carried out as soon as possible so that we can feel safer,' he said.

Liberal Party chief James Tien Pei-chun urged the government to pay attention to the quality of the contractors doing the maintenance.

Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said although the measure was mandatory, the government aimed to encourage rather than punish people to get the work done.

'And our rough estimation on the building inspection cost is about HK$400 to HK$2,400 per household, while the repair cost would be about HK$5,000 to HK$40,000,' she said.

Housing minister Michael Suen Ming-yeung said the government would consider lawmakers' opinions when drafting the law.