Water seepage problems


What are the common causes of water seepage?

Common causes of water seepage :
1. Leakage in the drainage pipes of the upper, adjacent or your own flat.
2. Leakage in the water supply pipes of the upper, adjacent or your own flat.
3. Deteriorated waterproofing of floor slabs or bath-tub seals.
4. Seepage of waste water or rain water through roof / external wall.


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”Acrobat file format 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. 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 Call Centre 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. If the seepage is mild or intermittent or if the source of seepage cannot be identified after investigation, Government intervention will cease.


What is the role of the newly set up 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 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, while Water Supplies Department will check if there is any wastage of water under the Waterworks Ordinance.


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. The staff will first inspect the site and then enter the flat under complaint to carry out non-destructive tests systematically so as to identify the seepage source. With the co-operation of the concerned owners/occupiers, normally the Joint Office will complete the investigation 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. Where the source of seepage 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 prove 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. 


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