Conviction of landlord of subdivided unit under regulated tenancy for contravening relevant requirements
A landlord of a subdivided unit (SDU) contravened Section 120AAZL under Part IVA of the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance (Cap. 7) (the Ordinance) for requiring the tenant to pay in relation to the tenancy (a) a specified rental deposit of more than 2 months' rent; (b) charges paid in advance rather than on reimbursement basis for specified utilities and services payable by the tenant under the tenancy, namely, water charges, electricity charges and town gas charges; and (c) cleaning fees. The landlord pleaded guilty today (February 3) at Eastern Magistrates' Courts and was fined $2,000 for the offence, and must repay to the tenant $400 received from the tenant other than that the landlord is entitled or permitted to receive under the Ordinance. This is the second SDU landlord being convicted of contravening the Ordinance since it has come into force from January 22, 2022.
The Rating and Valuation Department (RVD) received in mid-July 2022 a complaint about a person requiring an SDU tenant to pay money other than those specified under the Ordinance, which contravened the requirements. Upon in-depth investigation and evidence collection, the RVD prosecuted against the landlord of the regulated tenancy suspected of contravening the Ordinance.
Pursuant to Section 120AAZL of the Ordinance, a landlord of a regulated tenancy commits an offence if the landlord requires the tenant to pay, or the landlord otherwise receives from the tenancy, any money in relation to the tenancy other than those falling within the following types:
- specified rents;
- specified rental deposits;
- reimbursement of charges for any of the specified utilities and services payable by the tenant under the tenancy;
- damages for the tenant's breach of the tenancy.
The landlord is liable on a first conviction to a fine at level 3 ($10,000), and on a second or subsequent conviction to a fine at level 4 ($25,000).
A spokesman for the RVD hopes this second conviction will send a strong message to SDU landlords that they must comply with the relevant requirements under the Ordinance, and also remind SDU tenants of their rights under the Ordinance. The RVD spokesman also appeals to members of the public to come forward and report to the RVD promptly any suspected cases of contravening the relevant requirements. This would help curb illegal acts as soon as possible. Reporting can be made through the telephone hotline (2150 8303), by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), by fax (2116 4920) or by post to the RVD's office (15/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon).
Apart from following up on reported cases, the RVD has been adopting multipronged and interdepartmental approach to proactively investigate and follow up on cases concerning landlords who are suspected of contravening the Ordinance. Furthermore, the RVD has launched a new round of promotion and publicity campaign since November 2022 to enhance the understanding of the landlords and tenants regarding their respective responsibilities and rights under the Ordinance.
For enquiries related to regulated tenancy, please call the above telephone hotline or visit the RVD's webpage(www.rvd.gov.hk/en/our_services/tenancy_matters.html) for the relevant information.