Apartment owners, developers at odds over communal area loophole

By Doan Loan   June 7, 2023 | 06:22 am PT
Apartment owners, developers at odds over communal area loophole
Residents of Bonanza condo in Hanoi protest the developer for high service fees. Photo courtesy of building residents
Apartment owners are locked in disputes with building developers and managers over shared areas due to vague legal provisions, analysts said.

Tran Khanh, chairman of the Hanoi Building Management Operating Club, said the law does not spell out which areas belong to owners and which are commonly owned, and this is causing disagreements between the owners and building managements.

A 2010 decree states that the two areas must be delineated clearly in apartment sale contracts, but another decree in 2015 does not do so, he said.

Developers take advantage of it and do not designate shared areas, while buyers usually only worry about their apartment and do not care about shared spaces until later, he said.

Nguyen Manh Ha, deputy chairman of the Vietnam National Real Estate Association, said some developers make false claims to sell before taking ownership of shared areas.

One of the main disputed areas is the parking lot. The Housing Law states that motorbike and bicycle parking spaces are shared areas, but car parking spots must be bought or rented by residents.

The cost of building parking lots is purportedly not included in the apartment price but lawyer Truong Anh Tu said it is very difficult to prove that.

Though it is a gray area in the law and needs to be fixed, amendments that are coming up before the National Assembly do not include this, he said.

Khanh said the housing law does not require developers to publicly disclose the title deeds of lands used for building apartments, and this lack of transparency means owners could not know which areas are shared.

A developer could thus show buyers a design with the parking lot drawn differently from what was approved by authorities, he said.

Under current provisions, the government does not need to be involved in disagreements between owners and developers or managers, he said.

Authorities need to disclose the original design of the building on request so that apartment owners could know which areas are shared, he added.

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