PLC Panel on Home Affairs Meeting
Review of Hotel and Guesthouse
This paper (i) briefly describes the statutory licensing scheme for hotels and guesthouses under the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance (Cap 349)(the Ordinance), and (ii) addresses the issues raised in PUC Member Ms Ada Wong's letter dated 22.9.97 to PLC Members.
Licensing scheme under the Ordinance
2.The Ordinance was enacted in 1991 to provide for a statutory licensing scheme to regulate the fire and building safety of hotels and guesthouses. The scheme is implemented by the Office of the Licensing Authority of the Home Affairs Department. As at 1.10.97, there were 96 licensed hotels and 621 licensed guesthouses.
3.Licences have been issued to guesthoues if they comply with the fire and building safety requirements. The Ordinance has not explicitly empowered the Authority to take into account the terms and conditions of the Deed of Mutual Covenant (DMC) of a building when considering an application for issue or renewal of a licence. DMCs are private contracts between the owners of a building. The Authority is not party to that contract. This issue was addressed in paragraph 22 of the Legislative Council Brief issued by the then City & New Territories Administration on 30.1.90. The paragraph is extracted below :-
"A licence would be issued to a guesthouse if it meets the requirements set by the licensing authority. These requirements will not include compliance with lease conditions and the Deed of Mutual Covenant. Any breach of lease conditions should be dealt with by the Buildings and Lands Department in accordance with the current system of enforcement priorities. Similarly, the owners of a building can take civil action against a guesthouse for any breach of the Deed of Mutual Covenant."
4.Since the enactment of the Building Management Ordinance (BMO) in 1993, owners of a building can take matters relating to DMCs to the Lands Tribunal for adjudication, pursuant to Section 45 of the BMO.
Issues raised in Ms Ada Wong's letter
(i)Legislative intention of Cap 349
5.Please see paragraphs 2 to 4 above.
(ii)Review of licensing procedures
6.In line with the provisions of the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance, guesthouses applying for a licence are required to meet specified building and fire safety requirements but compliance with the DMC of a building has not been a licensing requirement. In view of the injunctions issued by the Lands Tribunal on two guesthouses in Hamilton Mansion, Causeway Bay, the Home Affairs Bureau and Home Affairs Department are reviewing the existing licensing procedures for guesthouses to determine whether compliance with the DMC should be made a prerequisite for approval of licence application/renewal. Meanwhile, the Licensing Authority will consider refraining from licensing guesthouses located in multi-user domestic buildings with DMCs prohibiting such usage.
Review of the Ordinance
7.Government will consider whether amendments to the Ordinance are necessary, in the light of the injunctions issued by the Lands Tribunal. The Home Affairs Bureau and Home Affairs Department will work closely with the Secretary for Justice on the legal issues involved. Members will be consulted further if and when such amendments are proposed.
8.We welcome Members' comments on the content of this paper and will be pleased to discuss with Members at the meeting of the Panel on 20.10.97.
Home Affairs Bureau