20th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) On 20th September, a landlord was found guilty of overcharging her subdivided unit (SDU) tenant for water, which is in violation of regulation 47 of the Waterworks Regulations (WWR). The defendant pleaded guilty to seven counts of offences at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts and received a fine of $500 for each contravention, resulting in a total fine of $3,500.
The Water Supplies Department (WSD) received a complaint in February 2023 regarding the overcharging of an SDU tenant for water in a flat located on Tseuk Luk Street, San Po Kong, Kowloon. Following a thorough investigation and collection of evidence, the WSD initiated legal proceedings against the person responsible for breaching the relevant regulation.
The WSD has been actively conducting inspections and pursuing prosecutions against instances of illegal overcharging of SDU tenants for water. This recent conviction marks the 11th case of its kind since the first conviction in June 2022, with fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 being imposed.
Under the amended regulation 47 of the WWR, the registered consumer of the water account, typically the landlord, is only permitted to recover from the occupants of the premises, usually the tenants, the water charge paid to the WSD. It is considered an offense if the amount recovered exceeds the water charge paid to the WSD, and the registered consumer can face a maximum fine of $10,000.
A spokesperson from the WSD emphasised the government’s commitment to combating such illegal activities through a multifaceted approach involving various departments. Alongside intensifying joint inspections and streamlining application procedures for the installation of separate water meters, efforts have been made to enhance publicity and education. The aim is to deter landlords from overcharging SDU tenants for water.