Information Paper for the
Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Housing
Enforcement Action Against Unauthorised Installation of Air Conditioners in Public Rental Housing Estates
This paper keeps Members posted about the enforcement action undertaken by the Housing Department against unauthorised installation of air conditioners in public rental housing estates in the light of a recent submission from the Joint Group for Fighting for Authorised Installation of Air-conditioners (the Group).
2. In the interest of public safety, enforcement action was launched by the Housing Department in April 1997. The subject has been discussed by Members at meetings held in September and October 1997. On 23 December 1997, Members met the Group which put forward some counter-proposals.
3. The Housing Department is flexible in dealing with requests from tenants on installation of air conditioners. In order to minimise inconvenience caused to the tenants, all counter-proposals of installation methods from tenants have been carefully considered. While some of them have been rejected on safety grounds, most have been accepted.
4. With regard to installation of split type air conditioners, the Housing Department has relaxed the requirements by allowing tenants to rest the condenser units on flower beds, ledges or other horizontal structural elements with width not less than 400 mm. For blocks with small balconies like the New Slab block type, installation of large condenser units is not desirable. Tenants in these blocks are thus encouraged to switch to window type air conditioners when they consider to replace the existing old split type air conditioners with new ones in future.
5. The Housing Department has rendered every possible assistance to affected tenants in rectifying their installations. A flexible approach has been adopted throughout the exercise. Installation of air conditioners at positions other than designated positions is allowed. However, if the air conditioner units are not installed at air conditioner hoods or windows provided by the Department, the key safety requirement of not protruding the air conditioners outside the flats must be met. The installation methods as proposed by the Group cannot be accepted because they do not comply with this basic safety requirement.
6. There are more than 330,000 air conditioner installations in public rental housing estates. It is, therefore, practically impossible for the management to inspect the safety condition of individual air conditioners regularly. It is the obligation of the tenants to properly maintain their air conditioners and ensure that their installations are always safe. There is no justification to incur additional public expenditures to deploy the maintenance contractors of the Department to carry out regular inspection as suggested by the Group. In this connection, it is important to strike a balance between tenants requests and effective and responsible management.
7. As at end of December 1997, only about 300 cases out of 50,000 unauthorised air conditioners in the first phase of the exercise remain to be rectified. Among these outstanding cases, over 90% of the tenants have confirmed their intention to rectify their installations within the extended grace period of three months. The result clearly indicates that the difficulties related to the rectification works can be and have been overcome and that the exercise has gained support and co-operation from the majority of tenants. The Housing Department will continue to be reasonable and flexible in helping the tenants in their rectification works, provided that public safety is not compromised.