RICS: New Government Subsidy to Encourage Internal Condition Survey to Residential Buildings

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
2013-08-27 14:14 1967

HONG KONG, Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to the Buildings Department's notice of application for Closure Order against a six-storey tenement building in To Kwa Wan on Kai Ming Street last week, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recommends the Government to launch a new subsidy scheme to introduce and finance internal condition surveys to residential flats to help raise owners' awareness on structural safety of their premises.

The traditional Tong Lau will be closed by Friday for demolition of dangerous cantilevered balconies before the Government conducts further investigations at the premises. Certain owners were reported ignoring the repair notices due to financial difficulties.

Under the existing "Integrated Building Maintenance Support Scheme" launched by the Hong Kong Housing Society and the Urban Renewal Authority, repair works on external walls and in common areas are entitled to Government subsidies, yet internal repairs are eligible for interest-free loans only, giving little financial support to property owners with difficulties. To fill the gap, RICS recommends the Government to introduce a prerequisite procedure of conducting an internal condition survey to the premises before transactions take place or at the termination of a lease and set up a new subsidy scheme offering financial incentives to property owners. The new measures address the potential structural hazards inside the premises thereby avoiding the reoccurrence of building collapse tragedies.

Mr Christopher Wong, Chair of RICS Building Surveying Professional Group Committee advised: "RICS has long been promoting internal condition surveys laid out in the Institution's 'Dilapidation Guidance Notes', aiming at assuring safety of buildings, occupants and the public. To address flat owners' financial difficulties in carrying out repair works, RICS suggests the Government introduce a new subsidy scheme to finance condition survey fee and repair costs, thereby reducing risks posed by Unauthorised Building Works as well as protecting public safety. As for elderly owners, more emphasis should be placed on reverse mortgage scheme, which may serve as an alternative for funding repair costs."

Presently, the Buildings Department has been following up with the affected owners and occupants and making appropriate arrangements in this Closure Order case.

Source: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors