Development Secretary Bernadette Linn on Sunday said the government is hoping to make it harder for landlords to get away with overcharging tenants for their water usage, noting that it's often difficult to obtain sufficient evidence to prosecute offenders.
In a blog post, Linn said there have been 117 reports of suspected overcharging for water since the Waterworks Amendment Ordinance took effect in 2021, but only 13 cases resulted in convictions, with fines ranging from HK$1,000 to HK$5,000.
Ten cases are still under investigation, but scores of others were closed due to a lack of evidence, she said.
Linn said an amendment bill that has been tabled to Legco would empower the authorities to require property owners to submit information such as water bill receipts and payment records.
Those who provide false or misleading information could be subject to a maximum fine of HK$10,000 and three months in jail. There would also be a two-tier penalty system, with a HK$25,000 fine for repeat offenders.
Meanwhile, Linn said 315 independent water meters have been installed for subdivided flat tenants to reduce the risk of them being overcharged. The Water Supplies Department has also received almost 200 applications for such meters.