Sunday, May 24, 2009

VietNamNet - Deputies question limits on overseas Vietnamese ownership of houses

How many houses overseas Vietnamese may purchase and with what rights were matters of considerable concern to National Assembly deputies at a debate on May 22.

Deputies Nguyen Dang Trung (standing) propsed to loosen some rights for overseas Vietnamese.

A proposed amendment to the Housing and Land Law would permit Overseas Vietnamese who live in Vietnam at least three months to buy a house or an apartment but would forbid them to mortgage the property, pledge it as security for a loan, or receive compensation if taken by the Government under eminent domain rules.

The amendments proposed by the Government to Article 126 of the Housing Law and Article 21 of the Land Law were discussed by National Assembly deputies on May 22.

The Government draft distinguishes between two kinds of overseas Vietnamese who have the rights to buy house in Vietnam. In the first group are those who have Vietnamese nationality, overseas Vietnamese who directly invest in Vietnam, people who have served the country, scientists, artists and other highly skilled people, and people whose spouses are Vietnamese citizens resident in Vietnam.

The second group includes all overseas Vietnamese who are granted visa exemption allowing them to live in Vietnam at least three months. People in this group cannot mortgage their houses.

Deputy Nguyen Ngoc Dao (Hanoi) argued that it is necessary to expand the group of overseas Vietnamese who have unfettered rights to buy homes in Vietnam because in the past three years, only 140 overseas Vietnamese have done so. Dao said that it is unnecessary to restrict overseas Vietnamese from mortgaging their houses.

Deputy Pham Thi Loan (also Hanoi) agreed with Dao, noting that the state’s purpose in allowing overseas Vietnamese to own a house here is to strengthen their attachment to their country of origin and to develop the real estate market. Overseas Vietnamese, therefore, should be provided the right to buy houses as though they were local residents and should be compensated in case the government condemns their houses. If they buy or sell or buy houses, of course they must pay tax.

Loan added that the government should not restrict the number of houses owned by overseas Vietnamese.

Deputy Nguyen Hong Son said that in the past, overseas Vietnamese didn’t have the right to buy houses but even so, they bought real estate in their relatives’ name, causing many lawsuits. Expanding the categories of overseas Vietnamese eligible to buy houses and lifting the limit on the number they may own will reduce complaints.

Economic Committee Chairman Ha Van Hien clarified that the amendment aims to ease the way for overseas Vietnamese to own a residence in Vietnam while deterring them from using said houses for business. The number of houses overseas Vietnamese may own and how they may use them, Hien said, ought to be restricted to prevent bad influence on the real estate market.

Supporting the Government position, Hien maintained that overseas Vietnamese who retain Vietnamese citizenship should have the same rights in real estate as Vietnamese living in Vietnam. Overseas Vietnamese who don’t keep their Vietnamese citizenship, on the other hand, shouldl be allowed to buy one house or one apartment only.

Some deputies raised questions about the definitions of who can buy a house in Vietnam. Hanoi Deputy Nguyen Dinh Quyen said that there are many terms that are unclear. What exactly, he asked, are ‘highly skilled people’ or the people who have served the country well? Quyen said these definitions should be clarified.


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