Developers pledge new formula for sizes of flats

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2008, 12:00am

Developers have promised a clear, standard formula to help property buyers know exactly what they are getting, as pressure mounts for a law to define the saleable area of a flat.

The Real Estate Developers Association said yesterday in-depth consultation would be held with various parties, including the Institute of Architects and the Law Society.

Association vice-chairman Stewart Leung Chi-kin made the promise at yesterday's Legislative Council housing panel meeting. Lawmakers accused developers of 'tricks to mislead' buyers.

Lawmakers pressed for a law to define saleable area, but housing officials insisted the self-regulatory system had been working efficiently.

Alan Leong Kah-kit, of the Civic Party, said: 'Further delaying [a law] would only give opportunities to unscrupulous developers to abuse the system.'

According to the Consumer Council, complaints on property transactions rose 31.2 per cent from 2006 to last year - from 346 to 454.

After enduring a sustained attack, an angry Mr Leung said: 'The issue is about our industry. We know it better. I would appreciate it if you could allow us some time to look into it. If we cannot work out anything at the end of the day, we do not mind the government doing what it wants ... it will not take very long, about three or four weeks.'

He later said he was confident the association could finish the review within the promised time.

Panel chairman Lee Wing-tat said he was pleased with the developers' resolve.

The issue has been around since the 1990s property boom, when buyers complained that their actual living space was shrinking as common areas were being included in the quoted floor area of a flat.

The Institute of Surveyors subsequently issued a set of guidelines. However, some grey areas, including the measurement of bay windows, remained unsolved.

The institute held a series of meetings in January with interested parties and decided against amending its guidelines.

But in the face of buyer complaints lawmakers have been demanding legislation instead of non-legal-binding guidelines.