City University evicts academic for allegedly abusing neighbour
CityU tells staffer and family to leave their HK$30,000-a-month Kowloon Tong home over his alleged use of offensive language
A City University academic is being evicted from his staff residence for quarrelling with his neighbours.
Hans Mahncke, a senior co-ordinator in the Office of the Provost, was shocked to receive a written notice from the university's human resources department last Monday ordering him and his family out of their HK$30,000-a-month Kowloon Tong home.
Mahncke, his wife, their 18-month-old son and eight-month-old daughter have been given a month to find a new home.
The German academic has lodged a number of complaints with the university over an incident on July 4, when he says he was knocked down by his neighbour's daughter who was riding a bicycle in the grounds of the staff quarters, where that was prohibited.
Mahncke - who has worked at the university for seven years and whose contract was renewed for two years in April - also complained that he was verbally abused by the girl's mainlander mother and her friends. He says he was told in English to "go back to your home country".
The removal notice says Mahncke is being evicted from the 1,500 sq ft flat due to his use of offensive language during "conflicts" with his neighbours. City University says the eviction is an internal matter. It says Mahncke gave a one-sided story, but the university refuses to provide details of the matter so as to protect the privacy of the parties.
The university 's staff quarters are rented under a licence agreement that can allow a tenant to be evicted without being given a reason or paid compensation.
Chinese University and the University of Hong Kong say that while their licence agreements contain such clauses, they have yet to be exercised.
A solicitor who declined to be identified said: "A university is expected to have a public duty to act reasonably in its decision-making or it may be subject to legal challenges.
"So the legal issue of reasonableness and fairness is beyond a simple housing dispute."
Mahncke says neither he nor his family members had breached any house rules since they moved into their staff residence two years ago.
Mahncke, who applied to run in next month's Legco elections, did not want to speculate about the motive behind the decision to evict him and his family.
But he insisted: "We are not the one who breached the house rules. It is unreasonable for the university to kick us out of our home."
Dr John Tse Wing-ling, chairman of the City University Staff Association, said it was the first time he had heard of a staffer being evicted for having disputes with neighbours. Tse has been teaching at the university for 25 years and has led the union since 2004.
"There must be valid reasons to evict. Having disputes with neighbours is definitely not one," Tse said.
"Even if a party is accused of breaching any house rules, there must also be an investigation instead of simply kicking the person out."