Skip to main content

Poor Quality of Defects Rectification Works for New Properties Led to Prolonged Follow-up Developers Urged to Improve Quality and Services to Avoid Disputes

  • 2022.06.15

Property prices are consistently high in Hong Kong and it is a lifetime investment for many to buy their own properties. First-hand residential properties are a top choice for many consumers as they are mostly equipped with new facilities with maintenance period from the developers. Yet, the Consumer Council has received complaints on the inferior quality of some first-hand residential properties and the developers’ failure to follow up promptly. The substandard defects rectification and the slow progress from the developers were often the grievance of consumers. Apart from affecting the move-in progress, the consumers could even be more frustrated if related works have to be continued after moving in. The situation may even worsen and make consumers feel helpless if communication problems arise between the two parties.

Given that first-hand residential properties often cost several to even tens of millions of dollars, consumers should have every right to expect a satisfactory quality of the purchased property and is a just and reasonable expectation of consumers. The Council urges developers to ensure the quality of the property development and to rectify the defects properly for the buyers. They should closely communicate with property owners so that both parties clearly understand and agree with the rectification solution which needs to be completed within a reasonable period. This could help bring dual benefits of establishing credibility for the developers and strengthening the confidence of consumers when purchasing first-hand residential properties.

Case 1: New Flat with Black and Mouldy Floor Tiles Before Moving In

The complainant purchased a first-hand property unit from Developer A and appointed their own building inspector to inspect the new flat. The inspection report listed out 11 unsatisfactory items, including the usage of hollow bricks in various locations, and a large area of blackened and mouldy floor. Quality of the flat was unacceptable. The complainant was dissatisfied that the floor of a property costing more than $10 million was already mouldy prior to moving in, and was also concerned that the mould would have adverse health effects on his family members. Therefore, the complainant requested the Developer to replace the floor tiles of the whole flat and fortify with damp-proof treatment. After the complainant had submitted a list of defects rectification works required and contacted both the property management company and the Developer, he received no reply from either party and was also unable to reach the officer in charge. The complainant criticised the management company and the Developer for shifting the responsibilities to each other and failing to confirm the overall rectification works arrangement. Left with no choice but to stay in a hotel for two months, he subsequently lodged a complaint with the Council.

After the Council issued a letter to the Developer to follow up on the case, the Developer contacted the complainant proactively and arranged replacement of the floor tiles of the whole flat, as well as promising to follow up on the remaining defects. The complainant later informed the Council that the defects rectification works were almost completed and the case was thus resolved.

Case 2: Customer Was Notified That Scratched Window Pane in Living Room Would Not Be Repaired After Waiting for More than Half a Year

The complainant appointed a building inspector to inspect his new flat and submitted a list of defects to Developer B for rectification. Although Developer B did follow up on the matter in the next several months, the scratched window pane in the living room had not been properly rectified. More than half a year later, staff members from Developer B informed the complainant that after evaluation, some areas of the window pane could be rectified by polishing while some parts could not. They claimed that they would request the contractor to replace the unrectified window pane. However, a few days later the staff members visited the flat again and after another inspection and assessment, they revealed that the scratches only affected the outlook and no replacement would be arranged. The complainant opined that the scratches were major defects in the living room. If the Developer could not rectify the defects by polishing, it should be the Developer’s responsibility to explore alternative solutions but should not just simply refuse to carry out the replacement works after almost 8 months on the grounds that there was no structural safety issue. Feeling that his right was not safeguarded for purchasing a first-hand residential property, the complainant filed a complaint to the Council.

During the Council’s conciliation, it was informed by the complainant that Developer B had arranged further inspection and discussion with him, and a consensus was eventually reached to replace the window pane after around a month. The case was resolved and no further follow-up was needed.

Case 3: Air Conditioners Malfunctioned After Operating for Less than a Year

The complainant purchased a new flat from Developer C. All the air conditioners functioned normally in the first summer after the property was handed over. In April the following year, the complainant found that the air conditioners in the living room and 2 guest rooms could not perform cooling functions properly. Since the defect liability period had expired already, the complainant thus contacted the air conditioner manufacturer on her own for an inspection and it was then found that the outdoor compressor was malfunctioning. Dissatisfied that the complimentary air conditioners that came with the new flat malfunctioned in less than a year, the complainant reflected the case to the management office and Developer C. After inspection, the management office confirmed that there was leakage of refrigerant due to the rupture of the radiator pipe. Yet, Developer C informed the complainant that no replacement of the air conditioners could be arranged as the defect liability period had expired and it could not be verified that the rupture of the radiator pipe was a construction defect. As the air conditioners had worn out after using merely for a season, the complainant suspected the issue was caused during the installation process and thus sought help from the Council, requesting Developer C to review the case again and provide possible solutions.

After the Council’s conciliation, Developer C stated in a written reply that they were willing to make an exceptional arrangement to absorb the maintenance cost of the air conditioners as a gesture of goodwill, albeit they stressed that the defect liability period had expired for almost 2 years when they received the complaint, and it should be the property owner’s responsibility to arrange related maintenance and repair works.

The Council reminds property owners that “The Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance” currently requires sales brochures to set out the information of the fittings, finishes and appliances of the property. Consumers should check to ensure that they match with the descriptions in the sales brochure. The developer shall remedy any defects to the property, or the fittings, finishes or appliances as soon as reasonably practicable after receipt of a written notice served by the consumers within 6 months after the date of completion of the sale and purchase.

The Council reminds consumers to think cautiously and read the related terms and conditions in detail before purchasing a property. The following should also be noted:

  • Retain the sales brochure: Some appliances might be provided with the purchase of the first-hand residential property. Consumers should cross check the partition and the complimentary appliances with the sales brochure to ensure they are consistent. Consumers should also be aware of the specific repair arrangements of the built-in home appliances, and proactively enquire about the contact information of the manufacturers and maintenance arrangements for future follow-up after the defect liability period expires;
  • Clearly mark the inspection checklist: Consumers can consider appointing professional surveyors or building inspectors to conduct an inspection and list out the defects that require rectification. If consumers prefer to do the inspection on their own, they should mark their defects rectification requests clearly and succinctly, and take photos as proof. Consumers must submit their requests in writing within the specified period;
  • Keep communication records during the defects rectification period: All communication with the developer should be recorded in writing and retained for record. If consumers suspected that the developer has not fulfilled the contract terms, or has failed to complete related follow-up within a reasonable lead time, they may seek help from the Council.


Download the article (Chinese only):


Consumer Council reserves all its right (including copyright) in respect of CHOICE magazine and Online CHOICE.