MTR's grip on estates silences residents

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am


Residents of five big housing estates have little control over their management and cannot form owners' corporations, a green group has found.

The reason: the MTR Corporation owns the title to more than half of the property in each estate.

Green Sense studied the deeds of mutual covenant for five residential estates above MTR stations: New Kwai Fong Gardens in Kwai Fong, Telford Garden in Kowloon Bay, Luk Yeung Sun Chuen in Tsuen Wan, Residence Oasis in Hang Hau, and Tierra Verde in Tsing Yi.

Including MTR facilities such as railway stations and depots, the company holds 51 per cent or more of the undivided shares in each estate.

In Telford Garden and Luk Yeung Sun Chuen - where the MTR-owned shopping malls Telford Plaza and Luk Yeung Galleria, respectively, own one-quarter of the shares - the MTR owns over 76 per cent of the estates. Green Sense president Roy Tam Hoi-pong said that as a result, flat owners had little or no say in management matters.

The Building Management Ordinance requires residents to hold at least 30 per cent of the shares to set up an owners' corporation.

The MTR Property Owners' Association says only two of the MTR Corp's 42 residential estates in Hong Kong have owners' corporations.

Jeff Lam Yuet, who chairs the group, said: 'To change the management company, we need over 50 per cent of undivided shares. Flat owners have no say over management fees.'

An MTR Corp spokeswoman said the company had always explained to flat owners that it retained ownership of the MTR stations 'to ensure the smooth and safe operation of railways'.

Chin Shun-ping, a flat owner at Telford Garden, said the MTR Corp made money by converting public areas into shops without consulting residents. He said residents had paid HK$80 million to maintain external walls and roofs in the 31 years since the estate opened.

'The cost was borne by around 5,000 flat owners,' Chin said. 'But the deed of mutual covenant says the MTR owns the walls and roofs, where it can place advertisements. Last year, the MTR gave us HK$10.3 million and offered us the ownership of the walls and roofs.'

Lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung said: 'Places that make money, like kindergartens and shopping malls, belong to the MTR. But public spaces belong to the flat owners, who must pay for maintenance and management.'