Hong Kong housing

Houseboat families at Hong Kong’s Discovery Bay Marina Club demand transparency after eviction notice

Between 150 and 200 families facing removal from Lantau marina say help and information from the club’s management has been thin on the ground

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 7:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 11:07am

Houseboat families facing eviction from a marina on Hong Kong’s largest outlying island have formed a group to demand greater transparency from the management after all berthing permits were cancelled.

The Post has learned that the new group will have meetings on Tuesdays.

A boating industry insider said the affected families would face a “big, big problem” with relocation as all other marinas in the city were full.

The government said living on board boats was not permitted in Hong Kong, but declined to comment when asked if officials would follow up on the issue.

Discovery Bay Marina Club on Lantau Island announced last Friday that all memberships and berthing permits would be terminated by December 31, as the club would be closed for “extensive repair, renovation and maintenance work”.

But the marina did not say what would happen after renovation or whether any arrangements would be made for those shipped out.

Between 150 and 200 families live on boats in the marina, according to local residents.

“The only thing I want to know is, when the renovation is done, can I come back?” said one marina resident, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the club.

200 families face eviction from Discovery Bay Marina Club

“If they say it will take one or two years, I can work with that. What I can’t work with is not knowing. If it’s definitely not going to open again, then that’s a totally different story. We have to really think about what to do with the boat, where to put it, where to go.”

The houseboater, who has been living at the marina for a decade, said the club had not communicated with the residents at all.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “Having lived there now for 10 years ... if I have just a simple question, you still don’t know who to ask, you don’t know who’s in charge, and even if they say they will pass it on, you never get a reply.”

Hong Kong Resort Company, the developer of Discovery Bay and a principal subsidiary of HKR International, said the club management would directly handle all matters related to the private marina, and that the company had no further comment.

A spokeswoman for the government’s Marine Department said no person should use a vessel as a dwelling place within Hong Kong waters unless a licence had been issued before the introduction of related regulations. She said there were four licensed dwelling vessels as of the end of last year, and they were moored at Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter.

David Robinson, owner of boating magazine Fragrant Harbour, said it would be difficult for the affected families to find other places to moor their boats.

“All the other marinas are short of or at full capacity, so it’s a big, big problem as to where these 200 boats will go,” he said.

Most would have to head to Hei Ling Chau, an island to the east of Lantau, but there was no water, power supply or transport there, he said.

Unlike Hong Kong, Robinson added, countries such as the Netherlands, France and America had no problem with people living on boats.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “There’s a lot of spite, a lot of people who don’t like it because somebody’s getting away with cheap rents.”

Transport sector lawmaker Frankie Yick Chi-ming said the families would need spaces for their boats regardless of whether they lived inside, and the government should offer help.

He also advised them to seek legal advice on whether they had been misled by the club in any way.