Hong Kong Lawyer

JANUARY 2018

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By Doreen Kong, Partner, China-Appointed Attesting Officer Reed Smith Richards Butler 46 www.hk-lawyer.org •  January 2018 Time for Revamping the Building Management Ordinance (Cap. 344) I n view of the increasing number of large-scale developments (such as Mei Foo Sun Chuen) in late 1960s, the Hong Kong Government promulgated the Multi-storey Buildings (Owners Incorporation) Ordinance (Cap. 344) in June 1970 to provide a basic legal framework for property owners to form owners' corporations to manage their own buildings. The Ordinance was substantially "modernised" in 1993 and re-titled as the Building Management Ordinance ("BMO") to facilitate the incorporation of owners and to provide them with specific powers and responsibilities regarding management of the common parts of the buildings. Since 1993, the BMO has not undergone substantial amendments, though review has been conducted from time to time. Since the enactment of the BMO, the Government tried to persuade owners to form owners' corporations to look after the day-to-day management of their buildings. The administration also delegates the Home Affairs Department to provide basic assistance to owners through the various District Lands Offices on the formation of owners' corporations and owners' meetings. This article aims to pinpoint some of the characteristics and strengths of strata title management legislation in other countries, where the legislative provisions are more forward-looking and comprehensive. For the purpose of this article, strata management legislation of British Columbia (Strata Property Act), New South Wales (Strata Schemes Management Act 2015), Australian Capital Territory (Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011), Singapore (Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (Chapter 30C)) and Malaysia (Strata Management Act 2013) are used as references. With the ageing problems of the buildings in the urban areas and the growing complexity of the building management issues, I hope that the Government can borrow other countries' experiences and consider a more thorough revamping of the BMO. Formation of Incorporated Owners ("IO") In British Columbia ("BC") and Australian Capital Territory ("ACT"), strata corporation is established once a strata plan is deposited or registered in a land title office, unlike Hong Kong where formation of an owners' corporation is purely voluntary. The present system that we have (buildings with owners' corporations, with owners' committees or neither of them) has made the building management framework more complicated for owners. In those jurisdictions where owners' corporations are automatically formed upon registration of a strata plan, buildings with fewer units may by a special resolution exempt itself from the requirement under the legislation. Meetings Regulations regarding meeting of owners' corporations in other jurisdictions tend to safeguard the overall interests of owners. For instance, in BC, before

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