How to expand the right for foreigners to buy houses in Vietnam was one of the most controversial issues in the debate on the draft Housing Law at the National Assembly last week.
According to the Ministry of Construction that drafted the law, widening foreign property ownership rights would help stimulate the market and supposedly shift some of the country’s ‘up-market’ housing.
According to deputy Truong Trong Nghia from Ho Chi Minh City, reform is obviously necessary and foreigners should be able to sub-let their own property, something which they are currently banned from.
However, many other deputies insisted that foreigners should have less rights than Vietnamese.
Deputy Tran Van Minh from Quang Ninh claimed the draft was far too generous to foreigners.
“The draft law said that any foreigners who have a three month visa to stay in Vietnam would be allowed to buy a house. This condition must be re-considered, in order to avoid property speculation,” Minh said.
Deputy Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam, also from Ho Chi Minh City, said that the revised Housing Law must clarify what were the long-term consequences of allowing foreigners to have equal rights to Vietnamese to hold property.
“It could be a channel for speculation and we must carefully consider how to avoid this,” Tam said.
Moreover, she added that there is a difference in laws between Vietnam and other countries. In Vietnam, land is considered an asset of the whole people and managed by the state. Meanwhile, in other countries, land is owned by private landlords which made it easier to transfer.
Tam said the law should be dragged out in order for foreigners to understand how Vietnamese property law worked.
The draft law also added a regulation that all property purchases needed to be made through banks to ensure that there would not be speculation and currency laundering.
To avoid disputes between owners and developers in apartment buildings, the draft law was also required by the deputies to clearly identify the public and private space, parking and facilities areas.
In the five years since foreigners were allowed to buy housing in Vietnam, less than 250 have taken up the opportunity despite well over 80,000 foreigners working and living in Vietnam.
The appallingly low figure has been attributed to the fact there is a complete lack of realism over property rights for foreigners.
Foreign nationals currently cannot sub-let their own property and are not allowed to even sell their housing when leaving the country.
According to the draft law, foreign individuals and organisations who purchase and own housing in Vietnam will have to pay income tax on their rent and will be forced to give written notice to housing management authorities at a provincial level.
In addition, foreign organisations that own property will be restricted to only being able to accommodate their own employees.
By Bich Ngoc (Source: vir.com.vn)