Help at hand for owners of old flats

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 November, 2011, 12:00am


The government has launched a HK$38 million project to help homeowners in 1,200 old buildings to organise their own corporations.

The scheme targets buildings that lack an owners' corporation and will help to reactivate defunct ones.

'These building owners are unable to organise themselves for several reasons,' Raymond Young Lap-moon, permanent secretary for home affairs, said yesterday.

'Some of them are too old, some are missing. Some are property developers or agencies who have acquired the units for redevelopment and don't have the incentive to manage the place.'

The Home Affairs Department has awarded 28-month contracts to Shui On Property Management and China Overseas Property Services to help the flat owners.

Company staff will conduct home visits and talk to owners, helping them form an owners' corporation to improve security, hygiene and maintenance. They will also help prepare management audit reports for the common areas in the buildings.

Other tasks are to help owners apply for various subsidies or loans for repairs, procure third-party insurance and provide management training to residents.

Properties must be in disrepair, more than 30 years old and have an average rateable value (based on rent) of less than HK$100,000 a year.

Of the 40,000 private buildings in Hong Kong, 7,000 are old tenements without owners' organisations.

The 1,200 targeted blocks have already been identified by earlier applications and nominations by district councillors and government district offices. The buildings are mostly in Yau Tsim Mong, Kowloon City and Sham Shui Po.

Young said a performance target had been set for the two companies. For example, in the three key districts, they had to form at least 18 owners' corporations, re-activate five defunct ones and help on 23 applications for building subsidies.

Another 'resident liaison ambassador scheme' targets buildings that are 'hopeless' when it comes to having an owners' corporation. Young said residents were encouraged to register as a contact point to help government departments carry out fire- and building-safety checks.

Young also said an advisory committee had completed a review of the Building Management Ordinance to help owners' corporations. A report would be submitted to the government early next year.