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Frequently asked questions

Water Seepage Problem

Water seepage from ceiling
Water seepage from ceiling
Water seepage from external wall
Water seepage from external wall

Common causes of water seepage :

  1. Leakage in the drainage pipes of the upper, adjacent or your own flat.
  2. Leakage in the water supply pipes of the upper, adjacent or your own flat.
  3. Deteriorated waterproofing of floor slabs or bath-tub seals.
  4. Seepage of waste water or rain water through roof / external wall.

In most cases, water seepage is caused by leakage from defective water pipes, sanitary fitments or drainage pipes. Usually, these defects can be rectified by simple repair works. Owners should directly engage a building technician or licensed plumber to identify the cause of seepage for prompt repairs. Please also refer to the investigation methods in the "Do It Yourself to Investigate Water Seepage" pamphlet as published by the Joint Office.

Owners have the responsibility for maintaining and managing their building, which include resolving any seepage problem. You should quickly approach your neighbour for investigation and repair work to resolve the problem if the seepage is suspected to originate from the flat on the upper floor or next door. Besides, assistance may be sought from the management firm or the Owners' Corporation of your building. Where necessary, you should with the engagement of a building professional or legal consultant request the responsible person to stop the seepage in accordance with the provisions under the Deed of Mutual Covenant, or even lodge a claim for damages.

If you cannot resolve the problem of water seepage with your neighbour, please call 1823 for assistance. Upon receipt of the seepage complaint, the Joint Office will carry out a preliminary investigation. If the seepage has posed a sanitary nuisance, the Joint Office will act in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance. If the seepage is mild or intermittent or if the source of seepage cannot be identified after investigation, Government intervention will cease.

The owners/occupants could also refer to the Notes to Owners/Occupants on the general procedures for investigating water seepage as prepared by the Joint Office of the Buildings Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Notes to Owners/Occupants General Procedures for Investigating Water Seepage Joint Office of the Buildings Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

The Joint Office set up by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Buildings Department aims to provide a "one-stop" service in dealing with complaints of seepage in buildings. Its role is to enforce the relevant provisions of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance in abating any nuisance caused by water seepage. If necessary, the Joint Office will refer cases to the Buildings Department or the Water Supplies Department for follow up action. For example, the Buildings Department will tackle the problem of building dilapidations and defective drains under the Buildings Ordinance, while Water Supplies Department will check if there is any wastage of water under the Waterworks Ordinance.

According to the investigation work procedure, the Joint Office will contact the complainant within six working days upon receipt of a complaint. The staff will first inspect the site and then enter the flat under complaint to carry out non-destructive tests systematically so as to identify the seepage source. With the co-operation of the concerned owners/occupiers, normally the Joint Office will complete the investigation and inform the complainant of the outcome within 90 working days. If the investigation cannot be completed within 90 working days, the Joint Office will notify the complainant of the investigation progress in writing.

The Joint Office has been authorised to enforce the relevant provisions of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance. Where the source of seepage is identified, the person concerned will be issued with a Nuisance Notice requiring the abatement of nuisance within a specified period of time, failing which the person will be subject to prosecution. Upon conviction, the person concerned is liable to a maximum fine of HK$10,000 and a daily fine of HK$200. The Joint Office may also apply to the Court for a Nuisance Order requiring the person concerned to abate the nuisance. Failure to comply with the order will result in prosecution. Upon conviction, the penalty will be a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and a daily fine of HK$450.

When handling a seepage complaint, the cooperation of all parties concerned is essential to allow the investigation officer access for testing and collecting evidence inside both the complainant's flat as well as the other flat suspected to be causing seepage in order to prove the seepage source. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to conduct several tests and collect different samples for examination. If the owner/occupant concerned refuses to co-operate, the investigation process may be extended as the Joint Office will have to apply to the Court for a warrant to enter the flat in question.

If owners wish to obtain copy of the investigation report or part of investigation report for water seepage, request may be made under the Code on Access to Information to this Department or the Joint Office by application form (obtainable from the R&D Registry on G/F, Buildings Department Headquarters, North Tower, West Kowloon Government Offices, 11 Hoi Ting Road, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon or download from the Department’s website at ), letter, telephone, facsimile or e-mail. As the information requested is not publications which are available free of charge, the following photocopying fee will be levied:

Fee (HK$) #
Copying report Handling charge * Photocopying charge
Black and white copy $5.1 per sheet $1.3 per sheet
Colour copy $5.1 per sheet $2.7 per sheet
# The fees are subject to revision from time to time.
* The handling charge for each investigation report will be capped at $229.5 (i.e. the handling charge of 45 sheets).

Water seepage is usually caused by defective building fabric or installations and the lack of proper building maintenance. As it is the responsibility of the owners / occupiers to maintain their buildings and to ensure environmental hygiene, their co-operation in resolving water seepage problems is essential. While the Joint Office would assist in identifying the source of seepage, the owners /occupiers can cooperate to engage building professionals or consultant firms for carrying out the investigation, identifying the source of seepage, and conducting necessary repair works to resolve the water seepage problems. The building related institutes and organizations provide experienced building professionals / consultant firms to the general public for delivering related services. Among the building related institutes, The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS) proactively informs that their experienced professional members / building surveying consultant firms are willing to provide such related services. The following hyperlinks are provided by The HKIS.

  1. List of Consultancy Firms provide Advice on Water Seepage Problem
  2. List of Experts on Water Seepage Investigation
Owners are responsible for making their own assessment of all information in the Lists. The HKIS should be contacted should there be any queries on any matters regarding the Lists. The Lists are complied, maintained and provided by the HKIS. The Government of the HKSAR plays no part in the compilation of the Lists and shall not be responsible for any inaccuracies in the Lists nor any errors/incomplete information arising from the hyperlinks nor any loss or damage whatsoever arising out of or in connection with any information or the performance of the service providers in the Lists. The service providers in the Lists should not be regarded as endorsed or recommended by the Buildings Department or the Government of the HKSAR nor imply that the Government of the HKSAR promotes their expertise or their business.

Under normal circumstances, seepage originated from penetration of rainwater through roofs, flat roofs, balconies, external walls or windows of a building or from leaking water pipes will not cause any public health implications and is not nuisance actionable by the Joint Office under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (PHMSO) (Cap. 132). The Joint Office will not follow up the seepage report in accordance with the established procedure. Having said that, the Joint office will advise the Incorporated Owners to arrange building professionals to inspect the conditions of the external walls/main roof of the building and registered contractors to carry out necessary repair works. If necessary, the Joint Office will refer the case to the Buildings Department for follow up action on building safety problem.

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