Landlord and Tenant
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VII. Repair/maintenance obligations

Statutory laws provide little guidance in identifying the duties of maintenance of a property. The Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance does not touch on this issue at all. The Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123 of the Laws of Hong Kong) confers power on the Building Authority to declare a building dangerous and to compel the owner to remedy the situation. However, this does not provide much assistance in the case of non-dangerous day to day repairs and maintenance. The Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132 of the Laws of Hong Kong) confers power on specified public officers to require the owner or occupier of a property to cleanse the property. However, this only concerns the hygienic condition of the property and does not provide much assistance in terms of common repairs and maintenance.

In respect of statutory orders issued by government authorities, it is almost invariable that the landlord, as the registered owner of the property, will be responsible for carrying out repairs or maintenance. A tenant who receives such an order should duly inform the landlord so that the necessary steps can be taken as soon as possible.

Regarding the day to day repair and maintenance of a property, the law implies the obligation on the landlord to provide a property fit for human habitation and the obligation on the tenant to use the property in a tenant-like manner (i.e. to use the property in a reasonable and proper manner) and not to commit waste (i.e. not to destroy/damage the property) . Obviously, such implied obligations are rather vague and not very helpful.

Hence, a well-drafted tenancy document that specifies the obligations for repair and maintenance is desirable.

  1. In general, is the landlord or the tenant responsible for maintaining and repairing the property?
  2. If there was a fire broken out on a leased property and the landlord has suffered some losses as a result, can the landlord claim against the tenant?