Taipei City’s Construction Management Office (CMO) fined the owner of an apartment unit for failing to maintain the exterior of the building after falling ceramic tiles injured a young girl.
Aside from being slapped with a fine of NT$60,000, the building unit’s owner was also held liable by the office for the girl’s medical expenses.
The case came to public attention when the victim’s family sought help from Taipei City Councilor Chien Yu-yan (簡余晏) of the Democratic Progressive Party.
Chien said the tiles from a section of the Jinhua Building hit the nine-year-old girl while she walked with her mother to a restaurant on Minquan E Road Sec 2 on Sunday.
The girl was taken to a nearby hospital and remains in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
The area’s borough warden Tung Sheng-hui (童勝輝) said that issuing the fine was unreasonable.
“The building unit’s owner only bought it just over a year ago, then this unfortunate accident happened. He is an innocent party in the incident,” he said.
In response, CMO deputy chief engineer Chiu Ying-che (邱英哲) said that “in most cases, we issue fines to the apartment building’s management committee.”
“However, this building does not have one, so we fined the owner of the particular section of the building instead,” he said.
The fine was issued under Article 77 of the Building Act (建築法), which stipulates that those responsible for a building’s upkeep must keep it in a good state of repair, he added. As such, the owner was fined NT$60,000 and must effect repair work within a set period or additional fines can be levied.
While acknowledging that the owner was a little unfortunate to be fined and could go to court to dispute the penalty, Chien said that the girl’s mother does not have the financial means to fight a court battle.
As such, Chien said that a court case would not be favorable for either side and that the Construction Management Office and Taipei City Government should be more proactive in finding ways to resolve the dispute and protect people from similar accidents.
Chien was also critical of the city government’s Urban Regeneration Office.
“The office is running a facelift program for old buildings, but many residents have complained that the program targets more affluent districts, restoring luxury buildings owned by the wealthy, while many old buildings that really need work do not receive any funding,” she said.