Property report outrage

THE property development industry yesterday expressed outrage over the way it believes it has been treated by law reformers advocating tough consumer protection laws.

Industry sources say the Law Reform Commission sub-committee report into uncompleted residential apartments was unfair and portrayed the majority of developers as ruthless ''bad guys'' seldom concerned with prudent commercial practice.

The Real Estate Developers' Association might consider a formal protest.

''The feeling is disappointment and frustration,'' an industry source complained last night.

''The way they seem to have treated developers in the report is very unfair.

''We have no problem with having a standardised system of operating but they did not treat us in a good way.

''We already have to comply with an awful lot of procedures. We have been very co-operative . . . most of us have played by the rules and made great effort to do things right.'' The association has so far not officially commented on the report, saying it needs time to analyse its contents.

However, members are believed to be privately upset at the tarnished image they claim has flowed from reports based on sub-committee proposals to stop the apparent mis-description of future residential premises.

It is understood the industry broadly accepts proposals to enact a standard floor space area.

But it disputes the extent to which the report has stipulated reform.

On Monday, the commission's sub-committee began a public consultation process on ways to give greater certainty to prospective flat buyers.

Its review was prompted by a Consumer Council inquiry which uncovered many instances of deception over the way properties were advertised.

The sub-committee's report urged jail terms and heavy fines for developers who deliberately mis-stated the space and structure of flats.

It recommended legislation to standardise floor space measurements and said all sales brochures and Deeds of Mutual Covenant should be available in English and Chinese.

The report also proposed restrictions over the type, standard and country of origin of fittings and furnishings.

The Society of Hong Kong Real Estate Agents said it supported moves to put in place standard floor measures but added the report seemed to be too complicated and burdensome.

''It is a bit too ambitious,'' said outgoing vice-president Nicholas Brooke.

''I think there needs to be a better appreciation of the development process as most developers act in a very discerning manner.

''There is a need for further refinement.' and I think most developers would try to resist many of these measures being imposed.''