Ombudsman probes Lands Department’s system of regularisation of illegal occupation of Government land and breach of lease conditions
7 May 2015
The Ombudsman, Ms Connie Lau, declared today (May 7) a direct investigation into the Lands Department (LandsD)’s system of regularisation of illegal occupation of Government land and breach of lease conditions. The aim is to identify any impropriety involved.
Generally speaking, when illegal occupation of Government land is found, the LandsD can invoke the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance and take land control actions for rectification, which include requiring the occupier to cease occupying the land in question by a prescribed date, and taking over any property or structure on the land after that date. In case of breach of lease conditions, the LandsD can take lease enforcement actions, which include requiring the land owner to rectify the irregularity by a prescribed date (e.g. to discontinue certain use of the land) and re-entering the land if the irregularity continues.
However, an illegal occupier and a landowner violating lease conditions can respectively apply to the LandsD for a short-term tenancy and modification of the lease conditions, to regularise the irregularity.
The Office of The Ombudsman notes from complaint cases that it usually takes the LandsD a fairly long time, which could often be more than a year, to complete processing a regularisation application. Moreover, while processing an application, the LandsD would suspend its enforcement actions, thereby allowing the irregularity to continue, which may result in prolonged suffering of residents/landowners in the neighbourhood from the nuisance or inconvenience caused.
The Office receives similar complaints from time to time, and there is growing public concern about illegal occupation of Government land and breach of lease conditions. Furthermore, Government land should always be well utilised. The Ombudsman has, therefore, decided to initiate this direct investigation into the LandsD’s regularisation system to identify any inadequacies and room for improvement.
The Ombudsman welcomes public views on this direct investigation. Comments in writing should reach the Office of The Ombudsman by June 8:
Address : 30/F, China MerchantsTower, Shun Tak Centre, 168-200 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong
Fax : 2882 8149
Email : email@example.com
Office of The Ombudsman
May 7, 2015