29th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) A landlord of subdivided units (SDUs) has pleaded guilty to 10 offences under the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance (Cap. 7) and was fined a total of $7,800 at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts today. The charges include six counts of failing to provide copies of bills and written accounts for apportioned water and electricity charges, three counts of failing to issue rent receipts, and one count of failing to submit the Notice of Tenancy (Form AR2) to the Commissioner of Rating and Valuation within the specified timeframe. Since the enforcement of the Ordinance, a total of eight SDU landlords have been convicted for contravening its provisions.
The Rating and Valuation Department (RVD) received a complaint related to this case in June 2023. Following a thorough investigation and collection of evidence, the RVD found that the landlord in question had allegedly violated three specific requirements of the Ordinance, leading to the prosecution.
According to Section 120AAZM of the Ordinance, when a landlord of a regulated tenancy requires the tenant to pay separate charges for utilities and services, such as water and electricity, they must provide copies of relevant bills and a written account detailing the apportioned amounts. The total apportioned charges must not exceed the billed amounts. Failure to comply with these obligations is considered an offence. On the first conviction, the landlord is liable for a fine at level 3 ($10,000), with subsequent convictions resulting in a fine at level 4 ($25,000).
Under Section 120AAZN of the Ordinance, landlords of regulated tenancies must issue a receipt to tenants within seven days of receiving rent payments. The receipt should include the landlord’s name and address, the period for which the rent is paid, and the date of payment. Non-compliance with these requirements constitutes an offence and is subject to a fine at level 1 ($2,000).
Additionally, as per Section 120AAZT of the Ordinance, landlords of regulated tenancies must submit Form AR2 to the Commissioner within 60 days after the start of the tenancy. Failure to comply without a reasonable excuse is an offence, carrying a fine at level 3 ($10,000). In the case of a continuing offence, an additional fine of $200 per day may be imposed.
An RVD spokesperson emphasizes that SDU landlords must adhere to the relevant requirements outlined in the Ordinance, while reminding SDU tenants of their rights under the same legislation. The RVD, in collaboration with other departments, has adopted a proactive approach to identify, investigate, and pursue cases involving landlords suspected of violating the Ordinance.
To this end, joint visits to SDUs have been conducted by the RVD and the Water Supplies Department, allowing tenants to directly report any offences committed by their landlords. The RVD also proactively requests information and reference documents from landlords to verify compliance with the Ordinance’s requirements. Refusal or negligence in providing the requested information is an offence, punishable by a fine at level 3 ($10,000) and a maximum imprisonment of three months.
Furthermore, the RVD offers Form AR3 for tenants of regulated tenancies who have not received an endorsed copy of Form AR2. This form enables tenants to provide basic tenancy details to the RVD electronically or in paper form, facilitating the department’s follow-up actions. Based on the collected information and evidence, the RVD will take appropriate measures on a case-by-case basis, including initiating prosecutions for suspected violations of the Ordinance.
The RVD spokesperson urges the public to promptly report any suspected cases of non-compliance with the relevant requirements to the department. This collaborative effort will contribute to the timely prevention of illegal activities. Reports can be made through various channels, including the telephone hotline (2150 8303), email ([email protected]), fax (2116 4920), post (15/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon), or in person (by appointment with the Tenancy Services Section at Room 3816-22, 38/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai; please call 2150 8303 to schedule an appointment).