Building Ordinance review urged to close loophole on signposts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2008, 12:00am

Legislators have urged a review of the Building Ordinance which, the Building Department has conceded, may allow signposts to be put on buildings without the consent of owners.

During a meeting of the home affairs panel yesterday at the Legislative Council, Paul Pang Tat-choi, assistant director for existing buildings of the Buildings Department, said the Building Ordinance dealt only with issues of safety and hygiene.

He said the department could, under the ordinance, approve applications of building works, including signposts, against the will of owners affected.

Once the applications fulfilled requirements on safety and hygiene standards, Mr Pang said, the department would remind the applicants of the importance of getting approval of the owners of the building involved, but would not request applicants to show proof of approval from owners.

Legislator James To Kun-sun said such a lack of requirement on the owners' approval could be a loophole which put owners at a disadvantage.

'How could the Buildings Department approve such proposals? It is like helping someone to invade the other's territory,' he said.

Legislator Choy So-yuk, chairwoman of the panel, asked the administration who, under the existing laws, should be responsible for accidents of building structures that have been built without the approval of owners.

Linda So Wai-sze, assistant director for home affairs, said both applicants for the building works, owners, and contractors could be held responsible for the accident, depending on the judgment of the court.

At present, she added, owners of buildings who had discovered building work had taken place on their territory without their permission may file a civil lawsuit.

Both Ms Choy and Mr To urged the administration to review the Buildings Ordinance to require the approval of owners upon construction of building works in their territories.

But Mr Pang refused because it would be 'a complicated issue'. The panel then decided to raise the issue with the Development Bureau.

The panel also passed a motion moved by legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip calling for the government to speed up its process involved in setting up regulatory systems that may monitor property management companies.

A study on the regulatory systems is now being undertaken by the government, but the timeline for its completion has yet to be confirmed.