Workshop wrecked in land dispute

Kwu Tung villager says landlord tore down her property without warning

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 6:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 11:33am

An elderly villager has spoken out against contractors who allegedly pulled down a workshop she had built beside her home without warning earlier this month.

Ho Mei-woon, who lives in Ki Lun village, Kwu Tung, northern New Territories, said she would lie in front of the bulldozer if they returned to tear down her house.

Ho, 78, said the workshop had been used for arts and crafts work. But all that was left now was a pile of iron sheets and some wooden posts, she said.

Ho said the land she had been renting for more than 50 years was sold to a new owner in March. In June, she was invited to renew her lease with a property management company.

She said that since 2012 she had been locked in a dispute with the then landlord, who wanted to increase the rent to HK$48,000 a year. Ho said she had previously paid between HK$400 to HK$700 a year to lease the land where her home stands.

Shirley Wong Ching-ping, one of Ho's daughters, said they had expressed their intention to continue renting the site and had asked for a survey to determine which parts of the land belonged to the new owner. But before the surveyors could come, the property management company took action on August 14 to tear down the workshop. "This is ridiculous … We are really worried they will come again," Wong said.

Rosa Yeung of Chung Fat Property Management, the firm handling the lease renewal, said the company had in July warned Ho to vacate the place within 15 days or face demolition. Letters were stuck on the house's front gate, its walls and even lamp posts on the road, she said.

"We checked with the Lands Department. What we demolished was an illegal structure," Yeung said. "We don't want her to pay us the outstanding rent; we only want her to leave as soon as possible."

Police said they had arrested two men on suspicion of criminal damage.