Al Plenary | Unpaid management fees norms rejected

Legal norms suggesting that house buyers should be accountable for paying property management fees owed by the house sellers (in particular, those who already purchased the houses and are selling them to another party) sparked a fierce debate among the lawmakers during yesterday’s Legislative Assembly plenary meeting. In an unusual move, after a long debate, lawmakers have rejected numbers three and five of article nine included in the new law regarding property management for common areas of condominiums.

Despite the rejection of the controversial norms, the bill was given the final green light yesterday.

Ng Kuok Cheong said that the controversial norms indicate that “the government is not confident in solving the problems, resorting to faster methods, choosing [this] way instead.” Melinda Chan said that the new norms should not be included in the new bill. “Writing it here is unfair for new buyers as it sets up a trap for them in which they have to pay fees for two years,” she concluded.

“I extremely oppose it [the norms],” said Mak Soi Kun, adding “the fees were generated because you [previous buyers] lived there. Why should new buyers have to cover them?”

Angela Leong also said that the article is an unfair policy. “Many opinions in society are not in favor of this policy, […] it is letting buyers become victims, in some way, innocently. Owing property management fees is a problem of personal morality,” said Leong, who also doubted “whether the policy is suspected to encourage owners to become indebted of property management fees.”

Ho Ion Sang deemed the norms to be “going against the rule of fairness. I disagree with this article. It will leave many buyers owing property management fees, which will cause a bigger chaos,” he added.

Au Kam San noted that “from the law, [we] can see that you [the government] have thought of many methods, but they all are uncertain.”

Lam Heong Sang said “the article has been changed many times, it is a compromising one.” He further suggested the government should learn from Hong Kong which bans those residents owing property management fees from leaving the territory.

Song Pek Kei also voiced her opposition to the article by saying “it is indeed unfair for new buyers. […] [Buyers] have not even enjoyed the service, but need to pay for it.”

Cheung Lup Kwan added his opinion, noting “I don’t understand why if you [the government] have such consideration, then [buyers] should cover this inexplicably.”

Chui Sai Peng said that the government was undoubtedly intending to implement a kind initiative by establishing such article, although he thinks it needs to be improved.

Fong Chi Keong voiced his opposition towards the article, saying “do you [the government] think it is reasonable?” He said “other people need to pay for what you [house sellers] used. […] Is the government being reasonable? It should be more reasonable than the public, [but] the government is becoming irrational. […] It is such a big joke, the legislation is really immature, […] The government is not rigorous while working on this law, and made huge mistakes. I do not understand the government’s attitude. How can you, as legal professionals, draft such article and then face people? The barrister [Leonel Alves] has not spoken yet, he will certainly conclude for you.”

Lawmakers Zheng Anting and Tong Io Cheng also expressed their disagreement with the article.

However, lawmakers Chan Chak Mo and Ng Kuok Cheong voiced their support.

The director of the Legal Affairs Bureau (DSAJ), Liu Dexue, said that there are several legal mechanisms established to protect new buyers.

Leonel Alves noted that property management companies should appeal to the court when someone fails to pay their contributions to the property management. “Why property management companies do not appeal to the court? […] How come it happens that the entity itself was not diligent in collecting payments due,” asked Alves. He then turned to Fong Chi Keong and said “it [the law] is not only asking for debts for one year, but interests are also included.”

Several lawmakers continued to voice their opposition towards the article.

Fong Chi Keong said “the bill encourages people to break the law, as it definitely encourages them not to pay property management fees. If irresponsible people draft such an article, how can it be reasonable?”

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