Crackdown on cubicle flats in industrial block
The government is to apply to court for closure orders in a crackdown on illegal subdivided flats in an industrial building in Tai Kok Tsui. It is the first time such action is being taken against an industrial building.
There has been growing concern in the city in recent years over fire, environmental and other risks from subdivided flats, in which cubicles are created in already small flats. A blaze in Mong Kok, east of Tai Kok Tsui, that killed nine people this month has drawn attention to the widespread problem again.
The authorities will apply for the closure orders, for the removal of illegal structures, in March and will affect residents of about 60 flats.
The Buildings Department said illegal structures were found on roofs of 78 and 78A Larch Street. It has also received many reports from the public and other government departments that say some floors of the building have been illegally altered to create subdivided flats.
Three statutory orders have been issued since 2009 requiring owners to remove their illegal subdivided units and demolish partition walls that affect fire escape routes, but they have not complied.
Notices of the government's intention to apply for closure orders had been posted at various locations of the affected floors, but the department would wait until March to go to the District Court so residents had more time to relocate, the department said. It will provide a one-off relocation allowance to occupants through the Community Care Fund.
One resident said she was renting her cubicle for HK$1,500 a month and did not know it was illegal for the building's floors to be subdivided. She said she had no idea where she could move to and hoped the department could arrange temporary accommodation for her.
'They should at least let me live in a flat in interim housing so I don't have to be worried,' she said.
Subdivided flats are prevalent in poor districts. Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told the Legislative Council this month inspectors cracking down were having difficulties entering.