4th October 2023 – (Hong Kong) Three property owners who repeatedly failed to comply with removal orders issued under the Buildings Ordinance (BO) (Cap. 123) were convicted and fined a total of nearly $160,000 at the Fanling Magistrates’ Courts last month.
In the first case, a two-storey unauthorised structure spanning approximately 60 square metres was erected in the garden adjacent to a house in Hong Lok Yuen, Tai Po. The owner, who failed to comply with the removal order, was prosecuted by the Buildings Department (BD) in 2015 and 2020, resulting in a total fine of over $150,000 upon conviction. Despite previous convictions, the owner persisted in not complying with the removal order, leading to a third prosecution by the BD. During mitigation, the owner’s representative informed the court that the necessary removal works were being arranged. On 19th September, the owner was fined $75,750 at the Fanling Magistrates’ Courts.
The second case involved multiple unauthorised structures with a total area of approximately 40 square metres, located at the ground floor, canopy, and roof of a village house in Tai Mei Tuk, Tai Po. The two co-owners of the property failed to comply with the removal order and were prosecuted by the BD in 2020, resulting in a total fine of about $28,000 upon conviction. Despite the initial conviction, the owners persisted in not complying with the removal order, leading to a second prosecution by the BD. The owners explained to the court that some of the unauthorised building works (UBWs) had been removed and the remaining UBWs would be dismantled as soon as possible. On September 19, the owners were fined a total of $83,050 at the Fanling Magistrates’ Courts.
Since the unauthorised building works in both cases were carried out without prior approval and consent from the BD, removal orders were issued to the owners under section 24(1) of the BO. Prosecutions were initiated against the owners who failed to comply with the orders.
A spokesperson for the BD emphasized the serious consequences of unauthorised building works and urged owners to promptly comply with removal orders. The BD will continue to take enforcement action against owners who fail to comply, including prosecution, in order to ensure building safety.
Failure to comply with a removal order without reasonable excuse is a severe offence under the BO, carrying a maximum penalty of a $200,000 fine and one year’s imprisonment. Additionally, a further fine of $20,000 may be imposed for each day that the offence continues.