AUDIT COMMISSION REPORT

Accounting and Auditing

Hong Kong inspectors fail to get into 80,000 public flats, Audit Commission finds

More than 30 per cent had been ‘inaccessible’ since government’s repairs scheme began 10 years ago

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2016, 10:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2016, 10:56pm

More than 24,000 public housing flats have been “inaccessible” to ­inspectors since a maintenance scheme began 10 years ago, the Audit Commission found.

As of March, the Total Maintenance Scheme introduced by the Housing Department to check on the condition of flats had covered 311 estates. Of the 80,000 flats staff were unable to enter, 30 per cent dated from the first phase of the scheme in 2006.

Although the department had kept a record of unsuccessful visits and reasons why inspectors were denied entry, there was no breakdown of individual flats, meaning there was no way to ­analyse the problem case by case.

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The Audit Commission ­recommended the department step up the access rate of its ­inspectors by imposing penalties on tenants who ­remained ­uncooperative.

Apart from active flat ­inspections, the department also rolled out a programme in 2008 to let tenants report problems to ­enable repairs to be carried out.

Under the programme, tagged Responsive In-flat Maintenance Services, the number of work ­orders jumped from 270,815 in 2011-12 to 420,155 in 2015 -16.

The department attributed the 55 per cent surge to estates ageing and the increased awareness of tenants to notify and report ­problems after a promotion ­campaign.

But auditors argued there were many cases of “repeated ­orders involving the same work types and locations within a short period of time”.

In one case, three work orders to replace drainage pipes in the toilet of a flat were issued within 85 days.

Out of 535 estate work orders carried out under this scheme, 88 per cent were rated Grades C or D by the performance verification team of the department, meaning partial or complete replacement or rectification works were ­required.

The watchdog called on the department to step up the final ­inspection of work.

It said it should even ­consider taking regulatory action against contractors whose work ­frequently fell below the ­standards expected.