Sales curbs may extend to 'rubbish dump' flats

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 January, 2011, 12:00am

A government committee responded to public outrage over pricey new flats being handed to their owners in 'rubbish dump' condition by saying that proposed laws regulating sales should extend to new homes on sites with unrestricted land leases.

'The committee basically agrees on this and there's no objection,' committee member and legislator Lee Wing-tat said after the group's second meeting yesterday.

The meeting was held in the wake of media reports of flat buyers of The Icon in Conduit Road complaining that their new homes were unfinished and like 'rubbish dumps' when they took possession of the properties.

One woman said she paid HK$9.7 million for a two-bedroom 691 sq ft flat. But when she visited it a month later the electricity cables and water pipes were not fitted, there was no flooring and the kitchen was filled with building materials.

The 17-storey project is built on a site with an unrestricted land lease, which means it does not come under the Lands Department Consent Scheme, which approves applications by developers to sell flats in uncompleted projects.

The developer of The Icon, Winfoong International, is also unaffected by the rules of the Real Estate Developers Association. It is not a member.

Lee said representatives from the Consumer Council and the Estate Agents Authority expressed support for including sites with unrestricted leases in the new law.

The Institute of Surveyors also hopes flats on these sites will be regulated. Dr Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung of the institute said that at present, 'developers selling flats on such unrestricted sites need not prepare any sale brochures for the project'.

'Even if they do, there is no control over what information they put in,' said Poon, who sits on the government committee.

The committee was set up in October to work on legislation to regulate the sales of new flats, both completed and uncompleted. A spokesman for the Transport and Housing Bureau said members yesterday discussed the scope of the legislative framework and recommendations from its sub-committee on regulating sales brochures, .

The members generally agreed that the proposed legislation should incorporate the existing rule that requires developers to make sure that sales brochures contain key information about the properties.

Poon said: 'We [the Institute of Surveyors] hope the law will require developers to distribute sale brochures for every project they sell. Also, all sorts of information - be it from developers' sale brochures, or from property agencies' advertisements and leaflets - have to be consistent.'

Poon said such basic information as flat size, layout, dimensions, and locations of doors and windows should be accurate in the sale brochure and promotion materials.

He said the law should carry a range of penalties, such as different levels of fines and lengths of imprisonment. Currently, the government can only warn developers while allowing them to continue the sale, or disapprove the sale, Poon said.

The steering committee is expected to complete its work and submit a report to the housing minister on the legislation of regulating the sales of new flats by October.

Because the new laws will not come into effect for two or three years, Lee said he hoped the government and the Estate Agents Authority would keep a close eye on sales of new homes.