MTR Corp to give residents fee refund

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 January, 2009, 12:00am

More than 25,000 families living in 10 residential estates managed by the MTR Corporation have been promised a refund of charges levied for management of their buildings before they were occupied.

The refund came after legal action was threatened by a resident in the MTR Corp-managed project Coastal Skyline at Tung Chung.

The MTR Corp said yesterday the refund was 'to maintain a good and harmonious relationship with our residents', and declined to discuss whether it was authorised to charge fees for management of estates before occupation permits had been granted.

'To provide high-quality management services to our residents immediately when they move in, it is necessary for us to commence preparation works before occupation,' an MTR Corp spokesman said. 'These pre-operating expenses are an indispensable part of our quality management services.'

The so-called pre-operating expenses can include pay to caretakers and any expenses incurred maintaining or managing facilities.

Islands District Council member Ophelia Lam Yau-han, of the Civic Party, who has supported Coastal Skyline residents, said: 'We have sought legal advice and nowhere in the deed of mutual covenant is it stated that an owner needs to be responsible for so-called pre-operating expenses.' Ms Lam said residents had considered legal action if the MTR Corp refused to refund the money.

The Coastal Skyline saga has dragged on since 2003 when residents raised concerns about a HK$4.9 million 'pre-operating expense' item in Coastal Skyline's management accounts for the first year after they moved in.

It was not until last week that the MTR Corp wrote to flat owners informing them that they would get a full refund of the fee, with interest.

This applies to nine other MTR Corp-managed estates where similar pre-occupation charges have been levied. They are Sorrento, The Waterfront and The Harbourside near Kowloon station; Park Avenue and Island Harbourview near Olympic station; Tierra Verde at Tsing Yi station; and Caribbean Coast, Seaview Crescent and Tung Chung Crescent near Tung Chung station.