The Government and developers should do more to tackle the problem of old buildings by fostering a levy on owners for maintenance and redevelopment, according to a leading surveyor. Steven Yip, former chairman of the general practice division at the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, made the call after recent falls of concrete from old buildings fuelled concern on potential risks and urban renewal difficulties. Recent Government efforts to deal with the ageing of buildings include a proposal for a mandatory building safety inspection scheme and the setting up of the Urban Renewal Authority to speed up redevelopment. The newly implemented Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance is aimed at helping developers proceed with redevelopment if they have rights to 90 per cent of a property. Mr Yip, director of Land Elite Surveyors, said existing government policies were not enough to tackle the plight of ageing and dilapidated buildings. He explained that Hong Kong's problems were more severe than other centres, as they were compounded by the popularity of strata-title sales and high-rise buildings. This created a multiple ownership problem and made redevelopment difficult. The life of a building in Hong Kong was made shorter by heavy rains, winds and the big range of temperatures, he said. Mr Yip called on the Government and private sector to consider foreign experiences in tackling redevelopment problems and introduce them in Hong Kong. Elsewhere it was a common practice in the provisions of the deed of mutual covenants (DMCs) that owners be levied to set up a fund for maintenance and future redevelopment of their building. 'The fund could be sufficient for rebuilding their home after an accumulation of, say, 30 years,' he said, adding that the mechanism could be brought in by adding DMC provisions. DMCs set out both the rights and obligations of individual property owners and the terms and conditions governing the management of a building. Mr Yip said DMCs should also include a provision allowing for a building's redevelopment through a majority vote by owners, say 80 to 90 per cent, and financed by the accumulated fund resources. Mr Yip said his proposal could be applied to all new projects, including the Government's public housing sales programme. 'Since the new generation of buildings would be taken care of by their own built-in mechanisms, the urban renewal problem would be limited to the current generation,' he said. However, Tang Bo-sin, assistant professor of the building and real estate department of the Polytechnic University, expressed reservations about the idea. He said the lease term for new projects would not be longer than 50 years, and after that the Government could resume the properties if they needed redevelopment. Even if a building's owners had enough money to redevelop the property, after 30 years, they would only have 20 years to go before the lease expired. He doubted whether they would consider it worthwhile to rebuild in such a situation.