Date
19 October 2017
Owners of old buildings will spend less on repairs and maintenance under a HK$3 billion government program to ensure the upkeep of these properties. Photo: Reuters/HKEJ
Owners of old buildings will spend less on repairs and maintenance under a HK$3 billion government program to ensure the upkeep of these properties. Photo: Reuters/HKEJ

Govt allocates HK$3 bln for upkeep of old buildings

Owners of old buildings in Hong Kong will benefit from a HK$3 billion initiative to ensure the upkeep of these properties.

That means building owners will spend less money for repairs and maintenance, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the measure in her maiden policy address on Wednesday under which the government will allocate HK$3 billion to Operation Building Bright 2.0 for the next five years.

There are more than 5,000 residential and composite buildings aged 50 years and older in Hong Kong and they pose hazards to residents and passers by without timely inspection and maintenance.

The initiative, which will be led by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), will replace Operation Building Bright 1.0 which began in 2009 and ended in 2012, with subsidies and one-stop technical assistance to help owners of old buildings carry out repairs and maintenance works.

The program benefited several thousand old buildings at a total cost of HK$3.5 billion.

The new initiative will provide subsidies to old buildings aged above 50 years in urban areas with a market rental value no higher than HK$162,000 and those in the New Territories with a market rental value no higher than HK$124,000.

There is no need for the applications to go through asset reviews.

As much as 80 percent of each of the building’s repair and maintenance costs can be covered by the program, with the upper limit set at HK$40,000, or 1.5 times the previous coverage.

In addition, Lam said the government will spend HK$2 billion to subsidize owners of old composite buildings to undertake fire safety enhancement measures.

The subsidies will take effect in the third quarter next year after the Legislative Council approves the funding request.

About 2,600 composite buildings will benefit from the subsidies. Owners need to pay only 40 percent of related costs.

In a statement, the URA said it will form a new building rehabilitation platform to provide relevant information and technical advice on building rehabilitation. It will be made up of experts from various professional institutes, industry leaders and business associations.

Sham Shui Po district councilor Vincent Cheng Wing-shun said the new scheme is timely as it gives building owners who missed out on the previous program another chance.

A secretary of the owners’ corporation of Shing Lum Building in Sham Shui Po said it received a request from the Fire Services department to improve its fire facilities but balked at the cost which is nearly HK$1 million.

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