Ten property owners fined over HK$450,000 for non-compliance with removal orders

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17th May 2024, ten property owners of five village houses have been convicted and fined a total of over $450,000 for failing to comply with removal orders issued under the Buildings Ordinance (BO) (Cap. 123). The convictions took place last month and earlier this month at the Fanling Magistrates’ Courts and Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Courts.

The village houses, located in Tai Po, Tuen Mun, and Yuen Long, were found to have various unauthorized structures on their roofs and/or ground floor, with areas ranging from 28 square meters to 80 square meters.

Since the Buildings Department (BD) did not grant certificates of exemption for these buildings, they are not considered New Territories Exempted Houses under the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance (Cap. 121). Consequently, removal orders were issued to the owners under section 24(1) of the BO due to the unauthorized building works (UBWs) carried out without prior approval and consent from the BD.

Upon failing to comply with the removal orders, the owners were prosecuted by the BD. In the first case, four co-owners were fined a total of $180,160, while in the second case, two co-owners were fined $53,880. These convictions occurred on April 30 and May 7, respectively, at the Fanling Magistrates’ Courts.

In the third case, the owner was fined $63,500 upon conviction at the Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Courts on May 3.

In the fourth case, both co-owners were prosecuted by the BD for non-compliance with removal orders. They were fined a total of $49,200 in 2022 and $4,340 in 2021 upon conviction at the Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Courts. Since the owners persisted in not complying with the removal orders, they faced a second prosecution by the BD, resulting in fines of $84,900 in total and $73,100 on 3rd and 10th May, respectively, at the Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Courts.

A spokesperson for the BD emphasised the serious consequences that unauthorised building works may lead to, urging owners to comply with removal orders promptly. The BD will continue to take enforcement action against owners who fail to comply, including prosecution, in order to ensure building safety.

It is important to note that failure to comply with a removal order without reasonable excuse is a grave offense under the BO. Upon conviction, the maximum penalty is a fine of $200,000 and one year’s imprisonment, with an additional fine of $20,000 for each day that the offence continues.