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BD and LandsD take joint enforcement actions against illegal domestic flats in industrial building

     The Buildings Department (BD) and the Lands Department (LandsD) today (May 6) announced that the two departments are taking joint actions against illegal domestic use in DAN6, an industrial building at 6 Fui Yiu Kok Street, Tsuen Wan to protect the safety of the public and tenants.

     Recently there have been media reports that certain units of the building were being used for domestic purposes. According to the approved building plans, the building was designed and constructed for industrial use only. Subsequent to its earlier investigation, the BD today served statutory orders to the owner of a unit which was found being used for domestic purposes illegally with some unauthorised building works (UBW) carried out. The orders required the owner to discontinue the present domestic use, demolish the UBW and reinstate the affected parts of the premises in accordance with the approved plan.

     Furthermore, the land leases for the land on which DAN6 is situated specify that the land should be used for general industrial and/or godown purposes. Consequently, using the units for any other purposes, including domestic use, is in breach of the leases. As such, the LandsD has issued a warning letter requesting the owner of the unit to rectify the breach. In view of the seriousness of using industrial units for domestic purposes, the LandsD will consider taking further lease enforcement actions as deemed necessary, including vesting the interests of the unit in the Government.

     The building has also been included in the BD's large-scale operation against domestic use in industrial buildings. The BD and the LandsD will arrange to inspect other units of the building in phases.

     The BD said industrial buildings are absolutely not suitable for domestic use. Industrial buildings are subject to requirements different from those applicable to domestic and composite buildings in various aspects, such as the provision of means of escape and other fire safety measures, as well as lighting and ventilation. Units in an industrial building can be used for industrial activities or storage of dangerous and inflammable goods at any time, and such potential risks cannot be rectified solely by remedial or improvement works. Illegal conversion of industrial premises for domestic use and the carrying out of UBW in industrial buildings could pose high safety risks to tenants living there. Illegal change in use and the carrying out of UBW also contravene the Buildings Ordinance (BO).

     The BD warns owners of industrial buildings not to change their units to domestic use illegally and carry out UBW, and stressed that owners who contravene the relevant legislation or fail to comply with the statutory orders may be prosecuted. Failure to comply with a removal order served under s24(1) of the BO, a discontinuation order served under s25(2)(b) or an order served under s26(1) without reasonable excuse are serious offences under the BO. The maximum penalties upon conviction are fines ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 and one year's imprisonment.

     The LandsD reminds landowners to comply with the conditions stipulated in the relevant land leases. Members of the public are urged to check the permissible uses as stipulated in the relevant leases before they purchase or rent units in industrial buildings, so as to avoid suffering losses or being held legally liable in the event of lease enforcement actions by the LandsD against breach of use in such units.

     People should refrain from residing in industrial buildings. People engaged in sales and rental activities involving industrial buildings, such as prospective buyers and tenants as well as estate agents, must check the approved intended use of the unit. An industrial unit should not be used for domestic purposes. To ascertain the approved intended use of the premises, apart from obtaining independent professional advice, they may obtain relevant information through the search services of the Land Registry, or check the occupation permit and approved building plans of the building in question via the Building Records Access and Viewing On-line system of the BD if they are in doubt.

Ends/Friday, May 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:07


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