A row concerning an unfinished flat costing nearly HK$10 million at a development in Mid-Levels has rung alarm bells for homebuyers in Hong Kong.
The buyer complained when she found the flat was like a 'rubbish dump' one month after she completed the purchase deal.
Solicitors joined in the argument yesterday because the 16-storey block, called The Icon, is being built on a site with an unrestricted land lease.
This means that the sale and purchase of the 68 units do not come under the Lands Department Consent Scheme, which approves applications by developers to sell flats in uncompleted projects.
The sale and purchase agreement is registered, giving the buyer some protection.
And the information provided in the sales brochure and the procedures of the sale are governed by Lands Department regulations.
Solicitor Daniel Wong Kwok-tung said: 'It's time for the government to regulate non-consent scheme projects. The case reflects the government's lack of regulations on the development of non-consent scheme projects like The Icon.
'The consent scheme offers better protection to buyers.'
Chan Cheong-kit, a director at Lanbase Surveyors, said: 'The government does not have any regulations on the pre-sale of non-consent scheme projects.
'If it is a consent scheme project, the government will require the developer to provide sufficient information of the project to the buyers and the government would also regulate the pre-sale of the project.'
He said the buyer could only take legal action for compensation.
The Icon is in Conduit Road and is being developed by Winfoong International.
The woman buyer paid HK$9.7 million for a two-bedroom flat measuring 691 sq ft. But when she visited it a month later she said: 'I couldn't believe my eyes. The flat is like a rubbish dump.'
She found electricity cables and water pipes were not fitted, there was no flooring and building materials lay in the area designated for the kitchen.
Centaline Property Agency is the sole agent of the project and the Estate Agents Authority said it would launch an investigation.
The authority said it has received one complaint related to The Icon.
Meanwhile, solicitor Wong said the buyer could ask the developer for a refund as it failed to meet the requirements on the sale and purchase agreement.
'If the problem is serious, you shouldn't accept the flat. Otherwise, you will waive all the rights you have,' he said.
Paying high-rise price
A buyer was shocked to find the flat was like a 'rubbish dump' after she paid this much, in Hong Kong dollars: $9.7m