More buyers outraged over 'rubbish flats' at The Icon

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

More disgruntled buyers of the Mid-Levels upmarket project The Icon are complaining that they were given 'rubbish flats'.

All are buyers of flats in block D at the luxury estate in Conduit Road. Their complaints are similar - flats with no or uncompleted flooring, electricity cables and water pipes that have not been fitted, as well as construction material scattered across the flat.

Some said they were offered a special rebate but they might have to surrender their flat keys if they wanted the renovations completed.

In response to a public outcry, the developer, Winfoong International, last night offered to pay three months' gas, water, electricity, management fees and property rates for affected buyers of block A and block D flats. Floors in blocks A and D have similar layouts.

Complaints over the sale practices of The Icon, at No 38 Conduit Road, snowballed after a buyer took her case to the media last Thursday.

The Civic Party, which is representing the buyers, says it has received five complaints so far, including one from a non-buyer.

Dr Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung, chairman of the Institute of Surveyors' housing panel, said it was time the industry reviewed the practice of handing over new flats to buyers. Because The Icon's site has unrestricted land use, the developer did not need to obtain consent from Lands Department officials to start selling flats.

At present, buyers of new flats usually arrange to clear payment and sign a sales agreement before getting the keys to check out their flats. 'Perhaps the community should think about whether the order should be reversed,' Poon said.

In the second-hand market, buyers check their flats first before completing a transaction.

Two buyers said they were offered a HK$140,000 rebate if they agreed to buy their flats without a completed kitchen. They each bought a 690-sq-ft two-bedroom flat.

One of the buyers declined the offer and completed a purchase last month. He claimed he was asked to sign a pile of documents before he could inspect his flat. He agreed, thinking it was only procedural.

'But when I went to inspect my flat the following day, I was shocked,' he said. There was still no kitchen and there was no flooring.'

He complained to the developer but was told the work could take another eight weeks. During that time, he would have to surrender his flat keys to the developer or else the developer could not be responsible for any flat damage found during the renovation period. 'I was totally disappointed. I was very surprised that such a thing could happen in a civilised city like Hong Kong.'

The other buyer also said she had been offered a HK$140,000 rebate. 'I flatly rejected them,' she said.

'Even when buying a Home Ownership Scheme flat, there will be a kitchen.'

She said she refused to surrender her home key to the developers. 'It is my home. How come I have to give them the key?'

A Central Property Agency employee said buyers could opt for a flat with no renovations and get a HK$140,000 rebate on the flat's retail price.

The Icon is a 17-storey project, with 68 flats of 690 sq ft to 781 sq ft, according to Winfoong International's website.

A spokesman for the Estate Agents Authority said it received one complaint regarding The Icon and was following up the case.

Louis Chan Wing-kit, managing director of Centaline Property Agency, last night declined to discuss the way his agents had promoted the project.

The developer has set up a hotline on 2525 2855 for affected buyers.