Free inquiry service available to property owners facing compulsory sale
I refer to the letter from Lam Wai-leung ('Time to revisit law and consider minority property owners' rights', September 25) and would like to clarify some of the points raised.
The Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance came into operation in 1999 to facilitate the selling of all the undivided shares of a lot by a person who owns at least 90 per cent of the undivided shares for the purpose of redevelopment through application to the Lands Tribunal. The 90 per cent was to strike a balance between facilitating urban renewal and protecting individual owners' rights. Under the ordinance, the Chief Executive in Council may, by notice in the Gazette, specify another percentage not lower than 80 per cent for certain classes of lot.
In view of the slower than anticipated pace at which the Urban Renewal Authority carries out redevelopment of old buildings for the purpose of urban renewal and arresting their deterioration, the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) (Specification of Lower Percentage) Notice was introduced and came into effect after scrutiny by the Legislative Council in April 2010 to lower the application threshold to 80 per cent for three classes of lot:
- A lot with units each of which accounts for more than 10 per cent of the undivided shares in the lot;
- A lot with all buildings aged 50 years or above; and
- A lot not located within an industrial zone with each of the buildings on it being an industrial building aged 30 years or above, to facilitate redevelopment by the private sector to complement the URA's efforts.
In parallel, to support minority owners whose properties are involved in compulsory sale applications, we have arranged with the Hong Kong Housing Society to provide a free inquiry service and have stepped up liaison with the Estate Agents Authority for cross-referrals. The Pilot Mediation Scheme was launched to facilitate mediation on a voluntary basis by parties involved in/ contemplating compulsory sale procedures. The Pilot Scheme on Outreach Support Service for Elderly Owners provides further assistance to elderly owners, in addition to our public education programme including a video, radio broadcasts and talks.
Mr Lam mentioned that none of the compulsory sale applications under the ordinance has been submitted by the URA. This is because URA's urban renewal projects are undertaken pursuant to the URA Ordinance and the Urban Renewal Strategy.
Winnie So, for secretary for development