on 3 May 1999
Legislative Council Panel on Housing
HOUSING MANAGERS REGISTRATION BILLIntroduction
It has been Government's policy to promote better building management through the formation of Owners' Incorporations and implementation of the Building Management Ordinance. In view of the expanded housing programme in both the public and private sectors, the need for professional property management is well recognized. We propose to enact new legislation to establish the professional status of housing managers through a registration system.
2. "Housing managers" as a profession generally refers to those engaged in the co-ordination and execution of housing services at a professional level, including estate and property management activities as well as maintenance and security of buildings. At present, unlike many other professions, there is no legislation recognizing the professional status of housing managers.
3. The Hong Kong Institute of Housing (HKIH) was established in 1988. Its main objects are to promote the standards of housing management and to raise the professional status of housing managers. Members of the Institute are mostly housing managers working in the public sector and private property-related companies. Its members, taken together, are currently managing about two-thirds of residential properties as well as a sizeable proportion of commercial and industrial buildings in the territory.
4. The Institute has been working on the idea of setting up a registration system for housing managers for some time. As a first step, a bill proposed by the Hon. Edward HO Sing-tin to provide for the incorporation of the HKIH was passed by the Legislative Council in May 1997. Late last year, Hon. Edward HO Sing-tin proposed to move the Housing Managers Registration Bill for establishing the professional status of housing managers through a registration system. As the Bill is in line with Government policy to promote better property management and raise the professional standards and performance of housing managers, the Government supports the Bill and decides to take over the processing of the Bill.
5. The Bill provides for the registration and disciplinary control of professional housing managers. It aims to assure the public that those who claim to be qualified professionals have indeed received proper training and obtained relevant qualifications. The proposed registration system will serve to enhance and maintain professional standards as well as to enforce self-regulation by the profession.
6. A registration board for "registered professional housing managers" will be set up, with not less than 12 members appointed by the Council of the HKIH and not more than two members appointed by the Chief Executive. The board will have power to set and review qualification standard for registration; receive, examine, accept and reject applications for registration; establish and maintain a register; inquire complaints and take disciplinary sanctions against professional misconduct. The registration system will be funded by the HKIH and administered by a Registrar appointed by the board.
6. The Bill further prohibits persons who are not registered from using the title of "registered professional housing managers". In order to be registered, the applicant should be a member of the HKIH or a housing management association of a similar standing or has attained professional qualifications as required by the board, and with at least one year's relevant working experience in Hong Kong.
7. It should be noted that registration is not a pre-requisite for employment. The Bill controls the use of title but does not prevent persons who are not registered from practising. The Bill thus will not create a "close-shop" situation, nor have any direct impact on the recruitment or employment of housing managers in the public and private sectors. The Bill is largely modeled on similar legislation for other professions such as engineers, architects and surveyors.
8. Any aggrieved person may appeal to the Court of Appeal against the decision or order made by the board concerning rejection of application and disciplinary sanctions.
9. The Bill creates certain offences such as obtaining registration fraudulently and using the title of "registered professional housing managers" without registration. Persons who commit the above offences are liable to a fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for one year.
10. Consultation has been held within the profession including the Hong Kong Institute of Real Estate Administration, the Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies and related organizations. The proposed voluntary registration system has received wide support from the profession.
11. We aim to introduce the Bill into the Legislative Council in July 1999.