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Hong Kong housing

Hong Kong houseboat owners facing eviction offered three-month extension with HK$150,000 deposit, but there will be no water or power

Discovery Bay Marina Club residents group says charging them to stay while removing all facilities is unacceptable

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 October, 2018, 7:33am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 October, 2018, 9:33pm

Some 200 houseboat families facing eviction from a three-decade-old marina in Hong Kong have been given an option to extend their berthing permit for three more months, but at a cost, the marina’s operator announced on Thursday.

In a statement, the Discovery Bay Marina Club said that although all memberships would be terminated by the end of this year as the marina closes for major renovation, members can choose to sign up for a new temporary contract allowing them to berth their boats at the marina until the end of March next year.

In signing up to the new contract, a club spokeswoman said, members will be required to pay HK$150,000 (US$19,136) in advance, which would be refundable when members’ boats departed or before the extension ended.

Members will also need to pay three months of berthing fees in advance at a 20 per cent discount on members’ current monthly berthing fees.

Discovery Bay Marina Club stands by evictions of boat owners and says renovation will make it world-class

The spokeswoman said the club was offering the discount because it would be withdrawing all existing clubhouse and marina services as planned on December 31, including water and power.

But she later said the discount was not related to the discontinuation of these services.

Security would remain at the club and the marina, she said.

“This offer will enable members’ boats to be safely secured in the marina while they are continuing to arrange for their removal to new berthing locations,” the statement read.

The club, owned by Hong Kong Resort Company, a principal subsidiary of HKR International (HKRI), informed members on August 31 about the termination of their berthing rights, giving them only four months to find new mooring locations.

Members had been urging the club to give them more time.

They are trying to make more money out of us in a situation which should be delicate to them
Henry Moreno, chairman of club members group

Henry Moreno, chairman of a group of 208 affected club members, said he would not sign up for the new arrangement.

“They are trying to make more money out of us in a situation which should be delicate to them,” Moreno said. “They are evicting people. This is not an extension. They are pulling away all the utilities.”

Moreno said his berthing fee was HK$12,000 a month. Under the new arrangement, he would need to pay the club HK$28,800 in advance, even if he found a new location for his boat before March 31.

“It’s not OK,” Moreno said. “Does this not show their greed?”

He said the extension should be free.

Moreno added that, in a document to members, the club said it would issue the extension at its own discretion, which could give the club a chance to target those it did not like.

But the club spokeswoman said the club “welcomed all members to apply”, and that the “own discretion” term was a “standard legal term used in all contractual documents”.

The club, which began in 1989 in the residential development of Discovery Bay on Lantau Island, reiterated in the statement that the renovation was necessary to provide safe anchorage to future users

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“Given the complexity and extent of the renovation, it is unsafe and impractical to arrange the renovation work in stages while continuing the operation of [the marina],” the statement read.

The club said existing members could register their interest in applying for future membership and berthing rights, but how the registration would be processed and other related terms and conditions had not been finalised.