Hanoi to allow residents to buy old French villas

Posted on August 14, 2012

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A villa on Ha Noi’s Phung Hung Street.

Ha Noi Department of Construction has proposed that the city authority sell ownership and land-use rights to people using old colonial French villas and allow them to preserve their original look.

This is part of a draft decree on preserving the city’s old buildings chalked out by the department after three years of revising old colonial French villas.

Hoang Tu, head of the department’s Unit 61 (named after the Government’s Decree 61 on housing trading) said granting ownership certificates to residents would stimulate them to invest in repairing the buildings.

For villas which are occupied by many households, the department proposed the city allow individuals to purchase the whole building and preserve it. This would solve disputes and improve the lives of all residents, he said.

Tu said the city had completed the classification of these villas, a preliminary step to preservation.

Villas belonging to the first category have cultural, architectural and historical value, are set in good locations and still maintain their original look, while those in the second are partly downgraded. Those who buy these villas would be required to keep the original design intact, and will be monitored strictly by relevant authorities.

The third category includes buildings which have little cultural and historical value, and the fourth type, which includes rebuilt buildings, can be repaired with the approval of relevant authorities.

Ly Huu Long, who has lived in a French villa on Tran Hung Dao Street for 60 years, said it would not be easy for residents of the villa to buy the whole building.

“There are 10 households living in this 300-square-metres villa. Some of them have built their own houses within it, while others, like me, still have to rent it out at the price of VND300,000 (US$14.2) per month for 30 sq. metres,” he said. “They would not have to share a house and a kitchen or bathrooms if they had that much money.”

Long also said that the department’s criteria for maintaining the original look of these villas must be clearer to avoid complicated procedures when investors purchase and repair them.

“No one buys them for accommodation. They buy them for doing business. There must be something to assure that they won’t waste money investing in these villas,” he said.

According to Tu, some procedural difficulties such as unsold land that is both State – and privately-owned will be solved when the Govnerment issues the decree on State-owned housing ownership.

“The price of land issued by the State will be much stable and avoid households in the same villas raising the land prices,” he said.

According to the department, Ha Noi is home to about 1,600 old colonial French villas. Over 560 are privately owned, 1,024 are State-owned and the rest are located in Ba Dinh, the political centre.

Many of the villas are in serious decline. Often, several households share the same villa, leading to disputes and low-quality living conditions for residents.

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Posted in: Corruption