Maximum fine for ignoring removal orders set to increase to $200,000 Property owners who ignore orders to tear down illegal structures will face bigger penalties from the end of the month. The Buildings (Amendment) Ordinance, which comes into effect on December 31, will give the Buildings Department the power to fine such offenders four times the present sum for ignoring removal orders. Offenders could face a maximum fine of $200,000 and one year in prison. The existing penalty is a maximum fine of $50,000 and one year's jail. Less serious offenders whose structures do not pose an immediate danger to public safety would receive warning notices to have the structures removed within a specified time. If they did not comply, the fact that they had ignored the warning notices would be recorded with the Land Registry. This could affect the future sale of a property because the record would be made public to potential buyers, Director of Buildings Marco Wu Moon-hoi warned. The amended legislation is an attempt to better combat more than 600,000 unauthorised building works, such as flower racks, clothes-drying racks and rooftop structures. In the past few years, the department has cleared about 30,000 such structures annually. 'Coupled with large-scale clearance operations, I expect the pace of removal will be quicker than in the past. But we also need the co-operation of owners,' Mr Wu said. To better help owners' corporations comply with removal orders, the department now has the power to prosecute unco-operative tenants who try to prevent the work from being carried out. Such offenders could face a $10,000 fine and six months' jail. Mr Wu added that the department would continue to step up its prosecution efforts. He estimated the department would prosecute about 1,500 people this year, up from 680 last year. Property owners need approval from the department before any building. Those who do not get approval will face a maximum fine of $400,000 and two years' imprisonment under the amendments. The existing penalty is a maximum fine of $100,000 and two years' jail. The department will also start a service allowing the public to view and buy approved building plans to ensure their works are legal. In addition to avoiding illegal structures, property owners are also required by law to maintain and repair their properties. They are also required to maintain access for emergency vehicles. Anyone with further inquiries can call the Buildings Department on 26261616.