Draft changes to foreign housing ownership in Vietnam shot down by National Assembly

By Ngan Anh, Thanh Nien News

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Draft revised housing law for foreign individuals to buy houses in Vietnam is too simple and such regulations could result in the speculation in the market, say lawmakers at a National Assembly session on May 27. Photo: Ngoc Thang

A number of National Assembly (NA) delegates have come out against amendments that would let foreigners buy and sell property here on the grounds that they may corner the country's now-frozen market and compromise national security.

During a discussion held Tuesday on the draft bill, Assemblyman Cao Sy Kiem acknowledged that foreigners should be able to buy houses in Vietnam, but dismissed draft amendments that would permit them to purchase an unlimited number of properties as too loose.

“The regulation could result in mass speculation. I agree that foreigners should be allowed to buy housing in Vietnam, but we should regulate and control the practice,” he said.

Echoing Kiem, delegate Vo Thi Dung decried the draft amendments as too simple and called for a three month residency requirement before any purchase can be made.

Delegate Tran Van Minh said the regulation should be reconsidered in a stricter manner to prevent foreign speculators from cornering the property market, and to preserve national security.

A number of dissenting delegates also assailed a draft amendment that would allow foreign institutes and individuals to buy land use rights from real estate investors, or rent land on project sites to build commercial housing on the grounds that it controverts the current Land Law.

The Land Law does not allow foreign institutes and individuals to buy land use rights.

Delegate Nguyen Minh Quang said the participation of foreign investors is necessary to bring more capital into a stagnant market.

However, Vietnam should issue regulations to control their capacity, and oversee construction, he said.

A law that took effect on January 1, 2009 allows foreigners to buy apartments, but not houses. The law also entitled foreign individuals and organizations to own one apartment that cannot be leased or used for anything other than residential purposes. 

The law was to be implemented on a trial basis for five years.

Four years after the law took effect, only 427 foreigners, 363 of whom are overseas Vietnamese, have bought apartments. The figure represents 0.5 percent of expatriates in the country.

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