The following information explains in layman’s terms the frequently asked questions under the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 and is used for general reference and information purposes only. The Office of the Licensing Authority (“OLA”) under the Home Affairs Department is dedicated to ensuring the accuracy of such information but there is no guarantee that up-to-date and accurate information is maintained at all times. For the most updated information, please refer to the relevant ordinance or other guidelines.
Download full set of Frequently Asked Questions (in PDF format)
- empowering the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Authority (“the Authority”) to take into account relevant restrictive provisions in land documents and local residents’ views in the licensing process, and introducing a number of enhancement measures to better protect the lodgers and the public;
- introducing a “strict liability” offence and empowering the Authority to apply for search warrants to search unlicensed premises; and
- increasing the penalties for offences under the Ordinance, and empowering the Authority to apply for closure of premises in particular cases.
- No-use restriction requirement : an applicant must provide a written legal advice given by a legal practitioner (commonly known as “solicitor’s letter”) on whether there is a “restrictive provision” in the relevant deed of mutual covenant (“DMC”) or Government lease (if the premises have no DMC), prohibiting the premises concerned from being used as a hotel or guesthouse; for commercial purposes; or otherwise than for private residential purposes;
- Fit and proper requirement : an applicant or any related person in case of a body of persons should make a declaration on whether he/she has committed an offence under the Ordinance, or any other serious offence, or whether the applicant is an undischarged bankrupt, in liquidation or the subject of a winding-up order. The Authority should take into account the above when considering whether the applicant (including a body of persons) is a “fit and proper” person for issue of a licence;
- Local consultation : the Authority will rely on an independent advisory panel to conduct “local consultation” to collect views of affected persons in the consideration of a licence application. The applicant may be required to respond to queries or provide further information upon request by the panel; and
- Differentiation of “hotel licence” and “guesthouse licence” : guesthouses are prohibited from using the word “酒店” or “Hotel” in their business names. The restriction includes the name of guesthouse shown on the signboards of the premises, promotion advertisements, online advertisements, etc.
- if the premises are used as an unlicensed hotel or guesthouse, the owners and tenants of the premises (Persons with exclusive occupancy rights on the premises, rather than guests who patronize the relevant premises) will be held criminally liable according to “strict liability” offence;
- the Authority may apply to the court for a search warrant to allow enforcement officers to enter into, or break into, with reasonable force when necessary, a suspected premises to inspect and search for evidence;
- the Authority may apply to the court, upon the second conviction within 16 months of the offence of operating an unlicensed hotel or guesthouse or the new strict liability offence in respect of the same premises, to issue a closure order for the premises for 6 months; and
- for operating an unlicensed hotel or guesthouse, the maximum fine increases from $200,000 to $500,000 and imprisonment increases from 2 years to 3 years.
- has been convicted of an offence under the Ordinance;
- has been convicted of an offence, other than an offence under the Ordinance, in Hong Kong or elsewhere and, in respect of the conviction sentenced to imprisonment for a term exceeding 3 months; or
- is an undischarged bankrupt, is in liquidation or is the subject of a winding-up order.
- for a body corporate –
- a director of the body corporate;
- a company secretary of the body corporate; or
- a person concerned in the management of the body corporate;
- for a partnership –
- a partner in the partnership;
- a person concerned in the management of the partnership; or
- an office holder of the partnership; or
- for an unincorporated body other than a partnership –
- a person concerned in the management of the body; or
- an office holder in the body
If all Personal Data Authorisation Form(s) and Consent Form(s) could not be submitted together with the application, the applicant or any related person (in case of a body of persons) should do so before the deadline set by the OLA. Otherwise, the Authority may refuse to issue the licence if the applicant or any related person (in case of a body of persons) fails to provide such documents.
A licence with a validity period exceeding 36 months could be issued on condition that the licensees are required to submit an annual “Authorized Person’s Certificate” in respect of the building and fire safety of the premises, certifying that since the date upon which the licence was issued or, since the immediate previous anniversary of the licence, the hotel or the guesthouse –
- has not undergone any substantial alteration by reference to the latest plan deposited with and agreed to by the Authority;
- has been operated, kept, managed, or otherwise controlled by the licensee as a hotel or guesthouse in a way that does not contravene any of the conditions of the licence;
- has been maintained in a proper condition with regard to building and fire safety.