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Property owner given suspended jail sentence and fine for failing to comply with removal order

Property owner given suspended jail sentence and fine for failing to comply with removal order

A property owner was sentenced to four months' imprisonment suspended for three years and fined HK$60,000 for failing to comply with removal orders issued under the Buildings Ordinance (Cap.123) at Kwun Tong Magistrates' Court on October 2.

Inspections conducted by staff of the Buildings Department revealed that large unauthorised structures had been erected on the roof of building in Canton Road, Kowloon. The building works were carried out without prior approval from the Building Authority (Buildings Department), contrary to section 14(1) of the Buildings Ordinance. Removal orders were then issued to the property owner concerned under section 24(1) of the Buildings Ordinance.

The Buildings Department later instigated prosecution of the property owner who failed to remove the unauthorised structures upon expiry of the removal order. The owner was convicted and fined HK$5,640 by the court for failure to comply with the removal order without a reasonable excuse. Since the unauthorised structures had still not been removed after the conviction, the owner was prosecuted for the second time and was convicted and fined HK$28,300 by the court.

As the owner still did not remove the unauthorised structures, the Buildings Department instigated prosecution of the owner for the third time in January 2013. The owner eventually pleaded guilty on September 18, 2013 and was remanded in custody for 14 days pending sentencing. After considering the background report and the defence counsel's mitigation, the court imposed a sentence of four months' imprisonment suspended for three years, plus a fine of HK$60,000, on October 2.

"Unauthorised building works may adversely affect the structural and fire safety of a building leading to serious consequences. Building owners should seek professional advice before carrying out any building works in their premises," a spokesman of the Buildings Department said.

"Owners intending to remove the existing unauthorised building works in their premises should either obtain prior approval and consent from the Buildings Department or follow the simplified requirements under the Minor Works Control System, and appoint a prescribed registered contractor to remove the unauthorised building works," the spokesman added.

Failure to comply with a removal order without reasonable excuse is a serious offence under the Buildings Ordinance. The maximum penalty upon conviction is one year's imprisonment and a fine of HK$200,000, as well as a further fine of HK$20,000 for each day that the offence continues.

Ends/Firday, October 4, 2013