26 October 2016
Hong Kong's existing laws do not provide clarity on the issue of motorhomes, experts say. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong's existing laws do not provide clarity on the issue of motorhomes, experts say. Photo: HKEJ

Legal grey area as modified RVs being sold as motorhomes

As Hong Kong continues to face serious shortage of affordable housing supply, some businessmen have eyed motorhomes as a solution to the chronic problem.

But there seems to be a legal grey area with regard to the sale of such vehicles, with government officials themselves unable to say for sure whether current laws allow the motorized dwellings.

The Hong Kong Economic Journal reports that a company has recently been selling “luxury motorhomes” on a property rental and sales website, claiming that the mobile units can be used by people as residence either for themselves or for their domestic helpers.

The asking price of a 133-square-foot motorhome was HK$90,000 (US$11,607), or HK$677 per square foot, far lower than that of a flat one can find in the city, according to the sales pitch.

A sales agent was quoted as saying that the motorhome is actually a modified recreational vehicle (RV) that has been long popular in Britain.

The unit is fully equipped and can meet the needs of Hongkongers who want to have their own homes but are vexed at the outrageous prices of regular homes, he said.

According to the person, some people bought the mootorhomes and parked them in the gardens of their village houses for their maids to live in.

An on-site check of a warehouse in Sheung Shui, where the motorhomes are kept, revealed that the units have a toilet, kitchen, a bed and other basic furniture inside.

The owner of the company that sells the motorhomes, a man surnamed Liu, said the vehicles are equipped with air conditioners as well as solar panels.

The solar panels make the motorhomes environmentally friendly, he said.

Motorhomes are a solution to Hong Kong’s housing problem, said Liu, who claimed that his firm is now able to sell a unit each month, compared to one in several months at first when sales began three years ago.

Asked if selling such motorhomes is legal, Liu said that he had learnt from the Buildings Department that there is no law to regulate what he has been doing.

In reply to a HKEJ query, the department did not have a precise answer, but said factors such as design, structure and operating mode of motorhomes will be the key in any decision on regulation of the units.

Vincent Ho, former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, said the law, as it stands now, does not cover motorhomes.  

He called on authorities to review the legal framework.

Meanwhile, he warned that motorhomes might mean breach of the uses prescribed in land lease provisions and that owners might need to pay rates as homeowners do.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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