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Hijacked public spaces vex HCMC apartment residents   2008-10-13 - Thanh nien

Hijacked public spaces vex HCMC apartment residents
Residents of several serviced apartments in Ho Chi Minh City are angry at realtors appropriating public properties in the buildings for private usage in disputes that have stretched over several months.



Occupants of the Botanic Towers apartments in Phu Nhuan District gathered Sunday morning inside the 18-story building to lodge complaints against the managing agency over disputed use of public space.

The outcry began in May when the apartment’s investor, Phu Hung Gia Joint Stock Company, said that the building’s basement, ground floor and mezzanine were its private property.

Phu Hung Gia then proceeded to use the basement as a parking lot and rented out the spaces on the ground floor and mezzanine.

Residents said the company’s act goes against the Housing Law, which stipulates that all areas and shared equipment outside of individual apartments – including terraces, stairways and elevators – are considered to be public properties.

The company, meanwhile, told Thanh Nien it is only contracted to give buyers the right of use for individual apartment units, while keeping authorized user rights over the rest of the property.

Though the dispute has not been settled, the company issued another notice which said occupants would have to pay a service fee of VND8,000 (US$0.48) per meter per month starting this month.

But residents have refused to pay the fee and say the company broke another regulation of the Housing Law since it didn’t set aside two percent from the apartment sales revenue for the maintenance fund.

Some key members of the building’s managing board did not show up to Sunday’s meeting and the matters remain unsolved.

Problems simmer

Residents from an apartment building in HCMC’s District 3, named after the investor Saigon Real Estate Corporation (SCREC), also have quarreled over the use of public spaces and related service fees.

They said the space on the first floor, which had been designed to be a nursery school, was leased out by the investor to open a bank’s office, while the office for apartment building staff was converted into a bookstore.

Staff head, Nguyen Ngoc Lan, said those spaces should remain open for public usage as required by the Housing Law.

However, SCREC had said in July they have proprietary rights over the first and fourth floors.

The residents also complained that the service fees, of VND100,000 agreed on, in the original two year contract, were tripled only one month after moving in.

“We can’t agree to such an unreasonable increase in service fees just one month after moving in,” a resident said, adding that the apartments also suffer water and electricity losses due to some construction errors.

The water costs for the building in April according to the main measurement meter was VND66 million, while residents actually just consumed around VND30 million worth based on compiled water bills, a resident said.

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