Landlord convicted of overcharging subdivided flat tenant for water, marking 17th similar conviction since June 2022

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14th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) A landlord of a subdivided flat (SDU) has been found guilty today of unlawfully overcharging her tenant for water, in violation of regulation 47 of the Waterworks Regulations. The conviction came after the landlord pleaded guilty to two counts of offences at the Fanling Magistrates’ Courts.

The case emerged in October 2023 when the Water Supplies Department (WSD) received a complaint regarding the overcharging of an SDU tenant for water at a flat located on Wo Tai Street in Fanling, New Territories. Following a thorough investigation and the gathering of evidence, the WSD took legal action against the landlord for the illegal practice of overcharging SDU tenants for water. This marks the 17th conviction of its kind since the first case in June 2022, and fines have ranged from $1,000 to $6,500.

A spokesperson for the WSD highlighted the significance of the Waterworks (Amendment) Ordinance 2024 (the amended WWO), which came into effect on 19th April, 2024. This amendment has strengthened the power of the Water Authority in terms of evidence collection and information disclosure during investigations into suspected cases of water overcharging. The Water Authority now has the authority to request landlords and their agents to provide tenancy agreements, receipts, or payment records pertaining to water charges. Failure to comply with such requests constitutes an offence, and upon conviction, offenders can face a maximum fine of $10,000, with an additional maximum daily fine of $1,000 for each ongoing offence. The WSD anticipates an increase in prosecution cases as a result of these enhanced measures. To deter this illegal practice, the maximum penalty for overcharging SDU tenants for water has been raised to $25,000. It is worth noting that providing false or misleading information to the Water Authority is also an offence carrying a maximum penalty of a $25,000 fine and up to six months’ imprisonment.