Paper for PLC Panel on Home Affairs
Meeting on 20 October 1997
Building Management and Maintenance
1.Government encourages owners of private buildings to manage their buildings effectively. In 1970, the Multi-storey Buildings (Owners Incorporation) Ordinance was enacted to provide a legal framework for owners to form Owners' Corporations (OCs) and to manage their own buildings. The Ordinance was revamped in 1993 and retitled as the Building Management Ordinance (BMO) to facilitate the incorporation of owners of flats and to provide owners with specific powers and responsibilities regarding management of the common parts of the buildings. The BMO also extended the jurisdiction of the Lands Tribunal to adjudicate building management disputes. Government expects that, through legislation, owners can manage their property and resolve their own building management problems effectively on a self-help basis.
Building Management and Maintenance
(i)Proposed Setting Up of Building Management Resource Centres (BMRCs)
2.With increasing number of buildings, proper building management and maintenance have become a prime public concern. Building management is a highly sophisticated profession which embraces a wide spectrum of expertise like maintenance and repairs, accountancy and law. As such, owners, who are mostly amateur in building management, often face a host of problems. The apathy of the owners has also led to mismanagement of buildings generally. There is rising public expectation that Government should play a more active role on building management.
3.At the LegCo Sitting on 8.1.1997, the Honourable MOK Ying-fan proposed the setting up of Building Management Resource Centres (BMRCs) to offer a more comprehensive service and support to owners and OCs of private buildings. An Inter-departmental Working Group chaired by the Director of Home Affairs was set up to study the proposal. The Working Group comprised representatives of HAD, HAB, Fire Services Department, Buildings Department, Housing Department and various building management-related professional bodies.
4.The Working Group held six meetings between February and June 1997 and members unanimously supported the setting up of BMRCs. The four professional bodies, namely The Law Society of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Society of Accountants, The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors and Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies, agreed to provide free professional advice at the Centres to owners and OCs of private buildings.
5.It is proposed that a wide range of building management-related information would be kept in the BMRCs. With the assistance of computer-aided equipment and audio-visual installations, visitors could obtain the requisite information on a self-help basis. General information and advice would be given by the Centres' staff while professional advice would be provided by the professional bodies. Basic mediation would be provided at the Centres but legal arbitration and outreach work would be excluded. The Centres will not assume the responsibilities of owners but assist them to discharge their duties and overcome their building management problems.
6.The BMRCs would be located in densely populated districts where aged buildings are usually found and be conveniently accessible to members of public. The Working Group, after an in-depth examination, submitted a final report in early July 1997 to the Secretary for Home Affairs who gave favourable support to the recommendations. A Preparatory Committee will be set up in mid November 1997 to oversee the establishment of the BMRCs. The membership of the Committee would largely comprise the same membership of the Working Group, but might co-opt further interested parties from other disciplines.
7.Building repairs and maintenance are highly technical issues. HAD organizes promotional activities jointly with relevant Government Departments and professional bodies to help put across the message on the importance of proper building repair and maintenance. When owners come across problems of building defects, HAD staff would advise them to enlist the service of building maintenance professionals earlier.
8.During the inspection of target buildings by the Building Management Co-ordination Teams of HAD, any structural problems would be brought to the attention of owners who are advised to approach building professionals as soon as possible for appropriate action. Major building defects normally require urgent attention for safety reasons. However, as HAD staff are not professionally trained on building maintenance, they cannot provide specific or detailed advice to owners on maintenance.
(iii)Fire Safety and Building Management
9.Following the tragic fires at Garley Building, Top One Karaoke and Mei Foo Sun Chuen, public attention has focused on the importance of fire prevention and effective building management. An Inter-departmental Working Group was set up in April 1997 under the chairmanship of the Secretary for Security to step up community education on fire safety. HAD has taken a very crucial role in disseminating the fire safety message and appealed to all District Officers to co-ordinate with Fire Services Department (FSD), Buildings Department (BD) and Information Services Department (ISD) to include the topic of fire safety and fire prevention on the annual building management promotional programmes so as to tie in with the major publicity strategy of the Administration.
10.Responding to Secretary for Security's appeal that HAD should collaborate with FSD to conduct more fire drills in private buildings, two fire drills had been held in Yau Tsim Mong district in March and June 1997. Eleven more fire drills conducted jointly by HAD, and FSD will be held in various districts from October 1997 to February 1998 with OCs and management companies of private buildings.
11.HAD is now actively considering a number of proposals to strengthen community involvement in the fight against fire at the district level, including the setting up of Committee(s) with the participation of unofficial members and Government representatives to advise on various aspects of fire safety and prevention matters.
(iv)Mandatory Building Safety Inspection Scheme (BSIS)
12.HAD rendered assistance to BD in promoting the mandatory BSIS by disseminating the promotional materials and consultation papers. Seminars will be held in each district for building owners, occupants, OCs, Mutual Aid Committees (MACs), Owners' Committees and property management companies to understand BSIS and air their views before the end of October - the deadline of BD's consultation exercise.
(v)Proposed Staff Enhancement
13.To enhance HAD's services on OC formation and building management, extra resources will be available in 1998-99 for the proposed BMRC and other commitments on building management. The number of Building Management Co-ordination Teams (BMCTs) will be increased to strengthen the out-reaching work to co-ordinate improvements for private buildings with building management problems.
(vi)Proposed Amendments to the Building Management Ordinance
14.Since the implementation of the BMO in May 1993, several deficiencies have been identified. The Administration is proposing certain amendments to the Ordinance. The major amendment will be in Section 14(1) and 18(1) where OC will be expressly empowered to carry out renovation, improvement or decoration works to common parts, facilities and services of the building in addition to repairs and maintenance. HAB will introduce a Building Management Ordinance (Amendment) Bill 1997 into the Provisional Legislative Council in February 1998.
(vii)Publicity Activities in Private Buildings
15.OCs and MACs, where they exist, have responsibility for the proper management of their buildings. Government encourages OCs and MACs to provide fair and equal treatment to all political parties or individuals for the posting of political publicity materials in the common areas of the buildings. This will provide all residents with access to information about any political party or individual.
16.In respect of the OCs, they may pass a resolution under Section 14(1) of the BMO at a meeting of owners with respect to the control, management and administration of the common parts. Any such resolution is binding on the OC's management committee and all the owners. OCs are encouraged to seek an owners' resolution on the posting of political publicity materials in the common parts of the buildings, particularly if there is any intention to impose restrictions on such posting.
17.In regard to MACs, there are no provisions in the law and in the MACs' constitutions for MACs to restrain distribution to residents of political publicity materials or other information materials from any persons and organisations. However, MACs may do so at the request of the owners and tenants of the building or if they have consulted and obtained prior authorisation from the owners and tenants.
18.Should there be any complaint lodged with HAD by residents who feel deprived of their right of access to information, staff at its District Offices would be ready to help mediate between the complainant and the OC or MAC concerned. An aggrieved owner and the tenants' representative may also bring the matter to the Lands Tribunal which will hear and determine proceedings on the use of the common parts of the building concerned.
19.HAD will continue to promote the concept of effective building management and review the adequacy of its services regularly with a view to uplifting the management standard in private buildings.
Home Affairs Bureau
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