- What are the common causes of water seepage?
Common causes of water seepage :
- leakage in the drainage pipes of the upper, adjacent or your own flat
- leakage in the water supply pipes of the upper, adjacent or your own flat
- defective or deteriorated waterproofing of floor slabs or bath-tub seals
- seepage of waste water or rain water through roof / podium / balcony / external wall / window of buildings
- How do we find out the causes of water seepage in residential flats?
In most cases, water seepage is caused by leakage from defective water pipes, sanitary fitments or drainage pipes. Usually, these defects can be rectified by simple repair works. Owners should directly engage a building technician or licensed plumber to identify the cause of seepage for prompt repairs. Please also refer to the investigation methods in the "Do-it-yourself Water Seepage Test" pamphlet as published by the Joint Office.
- How should disputes over water seepage be settled?
Owners have the responsibility for maintaining and managing their building, which include resolving any seepage problem. You should quickly approach your neighbour for investigation and repair work to resolve the problem if the seepage is suspected to originate from the flat on the upper floor or next door. Besides, assistance may be sought from the management firm or the Owners' Corporation of your building. For more information, please watch the video "Co-operate with neighbours to stop water seepage": https://www.isd.gov.hk/eng/tvapi/16_fh56.html. Where necessary, you should with the engagement of a building professional or legal consultant request the responsible person to stop the seepage in accordance with the provisions under the Deed of Mutual Covenant, or even lodge a claim for damages.
- What assistance can government departments offer?
If you cannot resolve the problem of water seepage with your neighbour, please call "1823" for assistance. Upon receipt of the seepage complaint, the Joint Office will carry out a preliminary investigation. If the seepage has posed a sanitary nuisance, the Joint Office will act in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132). If the seepage is mild or intermittent or if the source of seepage cannot be identified after investigation, Government intervention will cease.
The Joint Office will invoke statutory powers bestowed upon it by relevant legislation to investigate if a seepage case contravenes the legal requirements. If there is no concrete evidence to prove that the case violates relevant legal requirements, Joint Office will have no legal basis to take enforcement action.
The owners / occupants could also refer to the 'Notes to Owners / Occupants on the general procedures for investigating water seepage' prepared by the Joint Office, as follows:
- What is the role of the Joint Office?
The Joint Office set up by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Buildings Department aims to provide a "one-stop" service in dealing with complaints of seepage in buildings. Its role is to enforce the relevant provisions of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132)in abating any nuisance caused by water seepage. If necessary, the Joint Office will refer cases to the Buildings Department or the Water Supplies Department for follow up action. For example, the Buildings Department will tackle the problem of building dilapidations and defective drains under the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123), while Water Supplies Department will check if there is any wastage of water under the Waterworks Ordinance (Cap. 102).
- How long will it take for the Joint Office to investigate the cause of water seepage?
According to the investigation work procedure, the Joint Office will contact the complainant within six working days upon receipt of a complaint. Staff will first inspect the site and then enter the flat under complaint to carry out non-destructive tests systematically attempting to identify the seepage source. For simple and straightforward cases with the co-operation of the concerned owners/occupiers, the Joint Office will normally complete the investigation including testing and inform the complainant of the outcome within 90 working days. If the investigation cannot be completed within 90 working days, the Joint Office will notify the complainant of the investigation progress in writing.
- Is the Joint Office vested with statutory powers to stop water seepage?
The Joint Office has been authorised to enforce the relevant provisions of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132). Where the source of seepage posing a health nuisance is identified, the person concerned will be issued with a Nuisance Notice requiring the abatement of nuisance within a specified period of time, failing which the person will be subject to prosecution. Upon conviction, the person concerned is liable to a maximum fine of HK$10,000 and a daily fine of HK$200. The Joint Office may also apply to the Court for a Nuisance Order requiring the person concerned to abate the nuisance. Failure to comply with the order will result in prosecution. Upon conviction, the penalty will be a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and a daily fine of HK$450.
- How can the Joint Office obtain access into a residential flat to carry out the investigation?
When handling a seepage complaint, the cooperation of all parties concerned is essential to allow the investigation officer access for testing and collecting evidence inside both the complainant's flat as well as the other flat suspected to be causing seepage in order to identify the seepage source. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to conduct several tests and collect different samples for examination. If the owner/occupant concerned refuses to co-operate, the investigation process may be extended as the Joint Office will have to apply to the Court for a warrant to enter the flat in question.
- How to request for an investigation report on water seepage from the Joint Office?
If owners wish to obtain copies of the concerned investigation reports for water seepage, request may be made under the Code on Access to Information. The applicant may initially approach the case officer (from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) or the Buildings Department) of the Joint Office for details of the report required. The applicant may also submit an application form to the Joint Office through mail, facsimile or e-mail. The application form can be downloaded from FEHD's webpage: https://www.fehd.gov.hk/english/department/code_on_access_info_proce.html. Regarding requests for copying Stage I & II investigation report on water seepage from the Joint Office, standard photocopying charges are listed on the FEHD's webpage: https://www.fehd.gov.hk/english/department/code_on_access_info_proce.html, while details of the Buildings Department's charges for copying Stage III investigation report on water seepage can be found on the Buildings Department's webpage: https://www.bd.gov.hk/en/resources/request-for-information/index_fees.html.
- How do the owners / occupiers enquire and engage building professionals, consultant firms or licensed plumbers in carrying out water seepage investigation and identifying the seepage source(s) so as to resolve the water seepage problem?
Water seepage is usually caused by defective building fabric or installations and the lack of proper building maintenance. As it is the responsibility of the owners / occupiers to maintain their buildings and to ensure environmental hygiene, their co-operation in resolving water seepage problems is essential. While the Joint Office would assist in identifying the source of seepage, the owners / occupiers can cooperate to engage building professionals or consultant firms for carrying out the investigation, identifying the source of seepage, and conducting necessary repair works to resolve the water seepage problems. The building related institutes and organizations provide experienced building professionals / consultant firms to the general public for delivering related services. Among the building related institutes, The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS) proactively informs that their experienced professional members / building surveying consultant firms are willing to provide such related services. The following hyperlinks are provided by The HKIS.
- List of Consultancy Firms provide Advice on Water Seepage Problem
- List of Experts on Water Seepage Investigation
Owners are responsible for making their own assessment of all information in the Lists. The HKIS should be contacted should there be any queries on any matters regarding the Lists. The Lists are complied, maintained and provided by the HKIS. The Government of the HKSAR plays no part in the compilation of the Lists and shall not be responsible for any inaccuracies in the Lists nor any errors/incomplete information arising from the hyperlinks nor any loss or damage whatsoever arising out of or in connection with any information or the performance of the service providers in the Lists. The service providers in the Lists should not be regarded as endorsed or recommended by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department or the Government of the HKSAR nor imply that the Government of the HKSAR promotes their expertise or their business.
If water seepage problems involve the water supply system, owners may appoint a licensed plumber under the Waterworks Regulations (Cap. 102A) for checking the system and carrying out the necessary repair works. The licensed Plumber Directory is available on the following webpage of the Water Supplies Department: http://www.wsd.gov.hk/en/plumbing-engineering/licensed-plumbers/index.html
The Water Supplies Department will not intervene in a private dispute arising from a mild water seepage nuisance where there is no evidence of waste of water. In that case, you can consider approaching the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (Tel. 2525 2381) to assist in conciliation. If necessary, you can also seek legal advice from your lawyer to see whether civil proceedings should be instituted.
- How can the Joint Office handle rainwater seepage?
Under normal circumstances, seepage originated from penetration of rainwater through roofs, flat roofs, balconies, external walls or windows of a building or from leaking water pipes will not cause any public health implications and is not nuisance actionable by the Joint Office under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (PHMSO) (Cap. 132). The Joint Office will not follow up the seepage report in accordance with the established procedure. Having said that, the Joint Office will advise the Incorporated Owners to arrange building professionals to inspect the conditions of the external walls / main roof of the building and registered contractors to carry out necessary repair works. If necessary, the Joint Office will refer the case to the Buildings Department for follow up action on building safety problem.
- What are the common causes of water dripping giving rise to nuisance to public?
- air conditioners
- leakage of water supply pipes
- leakage of drainage pipes
- watering plant
- hanging clothes
- How to handle?
Upon receipt of complaint about water dripping, FEHD staff will investigate the case to ascertain whether the complaint justified. If the water dripping is causing nuisance to public, identify the source of dripping and take necessary follow-up action which may include referral of the case to other relevant departments if the complaint falls outside the jurisdiction of FEHD (e.g. defective water supply pipe, defective exposed/external drainage pipe).
- When will the Nuisance Notice be issued?
Once nuisance is established and author of nuisance confirmed, Nuisance Notice will be served to responsible party(ies).