For most of the past 65 years, the Mo family of Tai O has sold pork from a humble rented shop on Wing On Street, one of the larger thoroughfares in the Lantau fishing village. So it came as something of a shock when they were suddenly told late last year that the shop they had believed was government-owned was in fact the property of other villagers and their descendants and that they had less than two months to vacate the property. These villagers' families - operating under the name Wing Fuk Society - had been collecting rent on the shop, and two other properties in the same street, on the government's behalf since the 1950s. The tenants had believed the society owned the buildings, only to find out in 1991 they were government-owned, at which point they stopped paying rent to the society. In 1998, the government asked the Court of First Instance to clarify who owned the three properties. The court ruled that the Wing Fuk Society was not legally incorporated, but held that six members of the families who had operated the society were the properties' owners. However, the court also ruled the sites should be held in trust by the Secretary for Home Affairs, meaning the government would continue collecting rent on behalf of the owners - Kan Fat-hing, Lee Huk-yin, Kan Wing-biu, Lau Ying-chau, Hui Tak-fai and Kan Chung-shin, all of them Tai O residents or descended from villagers. The court gave no reason for placing the sites in trust, and the tenants were not told of the ownership change. Last August, the Lands Department returned the sites to the owners. The Mo family and the tenant of one of the other sites, Hung Sei-kei, who has also lived in his Wing On Street home for 60 years, were asked to move out. The third site has been vacant since 1992, when the last occupant moved out. Officials have declined to intervene in what they say is a private dispute. The Mo family and Mr Hung say they feel abandoned by the government. Kennon Tam Chung-lun, assistant district officer in the Home Affairs Department's Islands District office, said: 'The ruling was that the government was holding the land in trust for the six people. So when they requested the land be returned to them, we gave it back to them.' For 50-year-old Mo Ying, one of five siblings, the order to quit the Wing On Street shop is especially bitter because in the 1990s they spent HK$400,000 rebuilding the shop. Losing the property - in which the family no longer lives but which they still use to store meat - would affect the family income, Ms Mo said. The family is defying the order to quit. 'With all the memories of growing up here, it's sad to leave. We don't want to move out.' Mr Hung's mother operated the village's only photographic business in their shop until her death 10 years ago. He lives there alone, but hosts family gatherings there when there are holidays. 'I have got nowhere to go. My kids have all moved out but they all live in very small flats so they have got nowhere for their old man to stay,' he said. Lawyers for the properties' owners refused to comment. Alfred Lam Kwok-cheong, a solicitor familiar with rural land disputes, said the Tai O case was very rare. He did not believe it had implications for other rural properties. The Home Affairs Department is holding 152 pieces of land across Hong Kong in trust.