First conviction of landlord of subdivided unit under regulated tenancy for contravening relevant requirements

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 2nd December 2022 – (Hong Kong) A landlord of a subdivided unit (SDU) who failed to produce copies of the bills and provide an account in writing when requiring the tenant to pay for the reimbursement of the apportioned water and electricity charges, and who failed to provide the tenant with a rent receipt, contravened section 120AAZM and section 120AAZN under Part IVA of the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance (Cap. 7) (the Ordinance) respectively. The landlord pleaded guilty today at Eastern Magistrates’ Courts and was fined a total of $6,600 for six offences in relation to water and electricity charges and an offence in relation to failure to provide a rent receipt. This is the first conviction for contravening the Ordinance since it came into force on 22nd January, 2022.

The Rating and Valuation Department (RVD) received in mid-May 2022 a complaint about a person failing to provide the relevant information when requiring an SDU tenant to pay for the reimbursement of the apportioned water and electricity charges, which contravened the requirements. Upon in-depth investigation and evidence collection, the RVD prosecuted against the landlord of the regulated tenancy suspected of contravening the Ordinance.

Pursuant to section 120AAZM of the Ordinance, when a landlord of a regulated tenancy requires the tenant to pay for the reimbursement of the charges for any of the specified utilities and services (including water and electricity charges) as a separate payment from the rent, the landlord must produce for the tenant copies of the relevant bills and provide an account in writing showing how the amounts are apportioned, and that the aggregate of the apportioned amounts does not exceed the billed amounts. Failing to comply with such obligations is an offence. The landlord is liable on a first conviction to a fine at level 3 ($10,000), and on a second or subsequent conviction to a fine at level 4 ($25,000).

 In addition, pursuant to section 120AAZN of the Ordinance, a landlord of a regulated tenancy must, within seven days after receiving the amount of rent paid by the tenant, provide the tenant with a receipt. The receipt must state the landlord’s name and address, the period for which the rent is paid, and the date of payment. A landlord failing to comply with the above requirements commits an offence and is liable to a fine at level 1 ($2,000).

A spokesman for the RVD hopes this first conviction can send a strong message to SDU landlords that they must comply with the relevant requirements under the Ordinance, and also remind SDU tenants of their rights under the Ordinance. The RVD spokesman also appeals to members of the public to come forward and report to the RVD promptly any suspected cases of contravening the relevant requirements. This would help to curb illegal acts as soon as possible. Reporting can be made through the telephone hotline (2150 8303), by email ([email protected]), by fax (2116 4920), by post or in person at the RVD’s office (15/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon).

Apart from following up on reported cases, the RVD has been adopting an inter-departmental and multi-pronged approach to proactively investigate and follow up on cases concerning landlords who are suspected of contravening the Ordinance. Furthermore, the RVD has launched a new round of promotion and publicity campaign in November this year to enhance landlords and tenants’ understanding of their responsibilities and rights under the Ordinance.

 For enquiries related to regulated tenancy, please call the above telephone hotline or visit the RVD’s webpage (www.rvd.gov.hk/en/our_services/tenancy_matters.html) for the relevant information.

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