Urban Construction law | Additional guarantees for property buyers, ease on licensing for renovation works

The new Urban Construction Legal Regime includes additional guarantees for property buyers among its provisions, such as a 10-year warranty for the foundations and main structural elements of the building and five-years for other parts of the building, the spokesperson of the Executive Council (ExCo) and Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong announced yesterday during a press conference held at the government’s headquarters.
According to Cheong’s explanation, the new draft law also includes a series of new rules that aim to simplify the bureaucratic process for simple construction works. For instance, a formal construction license for renovations and other non-structural works will be replaced by a notice to the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) for the intention and purpose of performing such works.
On the same topic, the new legal regime includes the possibility of the DSSOPT appointing an external private entity to handle some of the project and works approvals to accelerate the procedures and to “ease the burden on the bureau,” the DSSOPT director, Chan Pou Ha added.
Replying to questions raised on the topic by the media as to how these private entities will be selected and appointed, Chan explained that, for the time being, the intention of the government is just to open such a possibility in the new legal regime for a future application.
“We are not aiming to enforce this right away, but we want to create this possibility for a possible application in the future,” Chan said, adding, “We already have a list of engineers and engineering companies registered under the DSSOPT who are qualified to perform these tasks.”
On the same topic, Cheong added that the selection and appointment system of these entities to perform these tasks will most likely be regulated at a later stage through a different law or administrative regulation.
For the time being, the government has some urgency in passing this key legal regime, which needs to be approved by the Legislative Assembly before August 15 next year, when the current legislative term concludes.

More responsibilities
for building owners
Besides giving more assurances to building owners, the new regime also establishes additional responsibilities for them, namely relating to building maintenance and preservation. The bill proposes that buildings be evaluated and repaired as necessary by the owners, after 10 years of issuing the building usage license and reevaluated every five-years after that.
In case the building owners do not perform the necessary maintenance works in a timely fashion, the bill also establishes a new sanctioning regime that applies penalties such as fines ranging from 2,500 to 1 million patacas in instances where an owner is a person and from 5,000 to 2 million patacas for an owner who is a legal person or corporate entity.
Another charge proposed is the possibility of the government ordering the suspension of electricity and water supply to the site where illegal works are being performed or in cases where the sites are not compliant with safety, health, and hygiene conditions, an extra power that adds to the embargo of the construction.
On the other hand, the new regime also includes incentives for the demolition of illegal constructions and voluntary compliance by owners with the government rules, with the government able to waive fines completely or apply them partially.

Illegal works are to
blame for buildings’
low lifespan: Chan
Replying to questions from the media on the topic of the warranties established by the new regime for structural elements and other parts of the buildings, Chan explained that the second group includes aspects such as the water and sewage piping systems, as well as the electrical network, among others. She added that the new regime of warranties offers a significant added protection for buildings and unit owners.
According to Chan, “most of the building problems are not structural or caused by faulty construction process by the contractors but, instead, come from illegal works that are being performed over time by units or building owners” which ultimately weakens the building’s condition and shortens its life-span.
The DSSOPT director also thinks that people in Macau should not be too worried as, “a building does not collapse from one day to the other but, instead, deteriorates over time,” she said, adding that most of the buildings in Macau are subject to condominium management, which is usually well aware of the existing problems and can inform the owners promptly so that they can proceed with renovation and maintenance works.

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