The new hygiene points system will depend on anonymous tipsters - and they may be rewarded for their efforts Public housing tenants will be asked to inform on unhygienic neighbours in a bid to boost the effectiveness of a cleanliness points system for estates which was announced yesterday. The tip-off system, part of a programme to improve hygiene in light of the Sars outbreak, would see residents anonymously reporting hygiene black spots and neighbours who break the rules. Public housing tenants will face eviction if they lose 16 hygiene points within two years. Points are deducted for a range of 19 offences, such as drying clothes in public areas, littering or throwing things out of windows. The rules, which come into effect in August, will apply to an estimated 600,000 households. The Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Housing), Leung Chin-man, yesterday said the tip-off system would help resolve some of the enforcement problems faced in the past. Mr Leung cited the example of surveillance cameras installed at 25 housing blocks to monitor people who threw rubbish out their windows. He said enforcement was difficult as they could not train the cameras on windows because of privacy concerns. 'But if there is a report that someone throws two beer bottles from his flat every night at 8pm, our staff could use a pair of binoculars to check it out and there won't be any privacy concerns as we're acting on information,' Mr Leung said. He said they also were considering offering rewards to informants who reported relatively serious offences. 'If people are reporting offences as serious as someone throwing a rice dumpling or durian from their flats, I think they should be rewarded,' Mr Leung said. The Deputy Director of Housing (Estate Management), Lau Kai-hung, said the long-standing problem of tenants keeping pets in their homes also would be addressed. He said tenants previously were able to play 'hide and seek' with officials by sneaking their pets out of their homes after receiving warnings. In future they would have five points deducted each time they were caught. But a Housing Authority member, Virginia Ip Chiu-ping, raised doubts about whether the new measures could be enforced effectively, considering that half of the 159 public housing estates were being privately managed. She questioned whether private employees would have the authority to enforce the rules. Ms Ip added that hygiene problems were often beyond tenants' control. Mr Leung said housing staff would be deployed to privately managed public estates to help with enforcement. Community organiser of the Society for Community Organisation Fok Tin-man said housing officials should be careful when handling hygiene cases involving elderly people as their cases often reflected more serious problems. 'Many elderly people have a habit of hoarding rubbish. It may be related to [psychological] problems relating to their need for a sense of security and belonging,' Ms Fok said. 'There should be a mechanism which would allow these cases to be referred to the Social Welfare Department to see if these people should actually be housed in elderly homes. And this mechanism should not be activated until the problem becomes very serious.' The chairman of the Hong Kong People's Council on Housing Policy, Lau Kar-wah, welcomed the new cleanliness measures. 'I hope it's not just talk, but they would really enforce it this time,' he said.