The Ombudsman announces result of direct investigation into the arrangement between Housing Department and Water Supplies Department regarding payment of water charges for common areas and vacant units in public housing estates
28 June 2017
The Ombudsman, Ms Connie Lau, today (June 28) announced the completion of a direct investigation into the arrangement for payment of water charges for the common areas and vacant units in public housing estates. The direct investigation report has been uploaded to the Office of The Ombudsman website at www.ombudsman.hk for public viewing.
2. Water charges for common areas and vacant residential units in public housing estates are paid to the Water Supplies Department (“WSD”) by the Housing Department (“HD”) on behalf of the Hong Kong Housing Authority. However, in one complaint case handled by the Office, it was found that HD’s property services agent in a public housing estate had sent the water bill for the vacancy period of a residential unit to the tenant who subsequently took up that unit for him to pay. The Office has also noticed that in a number of public housing estates, there were long-standing default payments in the water accounts payable by HD, but WSD just failed to address the problem. Moreover, the confusing arrangement between HD and WSD regarding change of consumership of residential and non-residential units has caused some outstanding payments to be completely written off, resulting in loss of public revenue.
3. This direct investigation has revealed impropriety on the part of these two departments in causing administrative confusion as noted above.
4. To address the inadequacies of HD and WSD, the Office has made five recommendations for improvement.
Office of The Ombudsman
June 28, 2017