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  HAD's new measures to support building management and maintenance (with photos)

The Home Affairs Department (HAD) will launch two new measures in April this year, namely the "AP Easy" Building Maintenance Advisory Service Scheme and the Building Management Professional Advisory Service Scheme (Phase II) to further provide owners' corporations (OCs) and owners of old buildings with free professional advice and support services to enhance building management and maintenance works on all fronts.

Speaking at today's press briefing, the Deputy Director of Home Affairs, Mr Jack Chan, said there are around 40 000 private buildings throughout the territory. Promoting proper and good building management has all along been the HAD's major task. The two schemes are respectively targeted at OCs preparing to carry out building maintenance works and owners of old buildings, in particular single blocks known as "three nil" buildings, i.e., those without OCs, residents' organisations or property management companies (PMCs).

"AP Easy" Building Maintenance Advisory Service Scheme ("AP Easy" Scheme)
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Building maintenance works involve professional knowledge and substantial costs. Some OCs, though willing to launch maintenance works to improve the living environment and safeguard the safety of tenants and the public, find it difficult to start the ball rolling, in particular on engaging consultants or authorised persons.

To tackle the issue, Mr Chan said, "The HAD is collaborating with the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the Hong Kong Institute of Architects to launch the 'AP Easy' Scheme on a pilot basis for one year.

"Thirty-five expert teams comprising over 70 members from these three professional institutions will offer tailor-made and professional advice and support to participating OCs, including drafting tender and contract documents, and analysing the tenders for OCs to engage consultants to take forward maintenance works."

The scheme has three objectives:

(i) With the support of expert teams and having regard to the individual needs and circumstances of buildings or housing estates, assist OCs to develop clear tender documents and analyse them, understand the roles of OCs and consultants, and commission suitable consultants at a reasonable price. The aim is to minimise misunderstanding and disputes between OCs and consultants as well as owners as a result of unclear provisions.

(ii) Assist OCs to guard against consultants, maintenance contractors or any person from using improper means to affect the tendering and the progress of building maintenance works. In addition to the active support from the professional institutions, OCs will also be invited to participate in relevant seminars organised by the Hong Kong Police Force and the Independent Commission Against Corruption with a view to combating crimes by means of the three-pronged approach of support, enforcement and crime prevention publicity.

(iii) Encourage owners to actively participate in building maintenance works and attend owners' meetings to exercise their rights and duties properly.

The service recipients will be OCs of residential or composite buildings aged 20 years or above and without engaging PMCs; with annual average rateable value of the residential units not exceeding $300,000; and intending to carry out maintenance work.

The roll-out of the "AP Easy" Scheme will further enhance the HAD's assistance to owners in building management in a more comprehensive and structured manner. Over the past few years, the HAD has implemented a number of initiatives with a view to supporting owners to discharge their building management duties and fostering a culture of good building management. For example, the LEAD Programme aims to provide structural training for OCs' members; the Panel Advisors on Building Management Disputes endeavours to render neutral, authoritative and professional advice to the parties in dispute with a view to resolving conflicts; the Building Management Professional Advisory Service Scheme and the Resident Liaison Ambassadors Scheme foster the management of "three-nil" buildings; a subsidy scheme for OCs of old buildings is funded by the Community Care Fund; etc.

Building Management Professional Advisory Service Scheme (Phase II) (the Scheme)
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The HAD launched the Scheme in November 2011 and commissioned two PMCs on contract terms to provide free professional advice on building management and safety to 1 200 owners of old buildings in 18 districts in Hong Kong.

Mr Chan said, "To conclude the experiences in the past two years, the Scheme has achieved far more than expected. Since the launch of the Scheme, the appointed PMCs have conducted over 7 400 household visits, assisted owners in setting up 118 OCs (the target was 77) and assisted 28 OCs (the target was 22) to re-operate. The PMCs have also assisted 108 OCs (the target was 99) to apply for subsidies for maintenance, and 74 OCs/buildings (the target was 51) to appoint authorised persons or contractors to carry out maintenance works."

He further stressed that some owners of the targeted buildings who used to be unconcerned about property management have become very active with the help of the PMCs. They are willing to form OCs, apply for subsidies for maintenance and carry out maintenance works. Even though some of them have yet to form OCs, they are willing to carry out maintenance works of a smaller scale to improve the living environment.

Mr Chan added that the Scheme has been well received and a new round of the Scheme lasting for three years will be rolled out in April this year to provide free professional advisory services on building management and safety to a new batch of 1 200 owners of old buildings.

The Scheme targets residential or composite buildings aged 30 years or above, with common parts in disrepair or dilapidated condition and requiring maintenance or repair, and without OCs or with defunct management committees of the OCs. The annual average rateable value of the residential units in urban areas (including Sha Tin, Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan) or in the New Territories should not exceed $120,000 or $92,000 respectively.

The appointed PMCs will provide free professional advisory services which include:

  • conducting household visits, contacting owners direct and recruiting Resident Liaison Ambassadors (RLAs);
  • assisting in the formation of OCs, and providing professional advice and support to OC meetings;
  • preparing and producing building management audit reports on common parts;
  • assisting OCs in applying for various subsidies and loan schemes for maintenance works, and following up on the works and tendering matters, etc;
  • assisting OCs in the procurement of third party risk insurance; and
  • providing training on building management to office bearers of OCs, owners and RLAs.
Mr Chan called on interested and eligible OCs or property owners to submit applications on or before March 31. He also encouraged owners to play an active part in building management and maintenance works to tackle the problem of building neglect and enhance the living environment. The HAD will continue to provide the stakeholders with appropriate assistance through multi-pronged measures to help them further improve building management.

To learn more about building management support programmes, please visit the HAD's dedicated website on building management (www.buildingmgt.gov.hk) or obtain the guides and application forms from the HAD's Public Enquiry Service Centres.

Ends/Thursday, February 20, 2014
Issued at HKT 20:40

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