Information Paper for the Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Housing
Enforcement Action Against Unauthorised Installation
of Air Conditioners in Public Rental Housing Estates
In the light of the most recent submission from the Joint Group for Fighting for Authorised Installation of Air-conditioners (the Group), this paper updates Members on the development of the enforcement action undertaken by the Housing Department against unauthorised installation of air conditioners in public rental housing estates.
2. In the interest of public safety, the enforcement action was launched by the Housing Department (HD) in April last year. Further to the discussion of this Panel in September and October last year, the Group submitted the following proposals at the Panel meeting held on 19 January 1998: -
- installation of air-conditioner hoods in all existing public housing flats by HD; and
- nomination of approved contractors by HD for the tenants to install and maintain their air-conditioners (ACs) outside their flats.
3. At the same meeting, it was also proposed to secure the ACs installed outside the flats with wired ropes. After deliberation, Members suggested that HD should re-examine the suggestions proposed by the Group.
Meeting with the Group
4. On 24 February 1998, HD met with the Group to discuss their counter-proposals. These proposals were considered unacceptable for the reasons given in the ensuing paragraphs. Assurance was, however, given to the Group that HD would re-visit the flats concerned and continue to help the tenants in the rectification works.
Installation of air-conditioner hoods
5. It is undesirable to install massive additional fixtures, such as AC hoods, to buildings which are not structurally designed to bear the additional loading arising from the hoods and the ACs thereon. Coupled with other variances such as height of the buildings and wind force during typhoon, the proposed installation of AC hoods to existing public housing flats will impose a potential threat to public safety. Moreover, individual tenants may not welcome installation of AC hoods after moving in and at specific locations. Many tenants would need to relocate their ACs to the new AC hoods if installed. Since there are already suitable locations for proper installation of ACs in all existing rental housing flats, the provision of AC hoods is considered not necessary.
Installation and maintenance by approved contractors
6. The proposal to request tenants to employ approved contractors to install and maintain their ACs will incur financial cost on the tenants. It will also be costly and difficult for HD to inspect and ensure the safety conditions of ACs hanging outside all the 660,000 public housing flats. In the interest of the tenants themselves and the public safety, this proposal is not desirable.
Fasten air-conditioners with wired ropes
7. Fastening of ACs installed outside the flats with wired ropes is technically unsafe and therefore not acceptable.
8. The requests and queries made by the Group have been fully considered and answered since the exercise commenced in April last year.
9. As at end of January 1998, only some 200 unauthorised installations, representing 0.4% of the total 50,000 cases in the first phase of the exercise, remain to be rectified. Of these outstanding cases, about 150 tenants have indicated that they will rectify their installations within the extended three month grace period. The result shows that the existing methods of rectification are feasible and acceptable to the tenants. Most important of all, it demonstrates that majority of the tenants are co-operative and conscious of public safety.
10. HD will step up the enforcement of tenancy conditions against those persistent tenants who unreasonably refuse to rectify their unauthorised installations. HD is determined to rectify the situation and ensure that public safety is not jeopardised. We are confident that the action is supported by the community at large.