Vietnam lawmakers want restrictions on foreigners buying houses

By Thai Son, Thanh Nien News

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The Ministry of Construction wants to scrap virtually all restrictions on overseas Vietnamese, or Viet kieu, and foreigners owning property in Vietnam, but some lawmakers want to proceed more cautiously.
Under amendments the ministry  proposes to the Housing Law, overseas Vietnamese can buy houses without restrictions once they are allowed to enter Vietnam.
Existing laws only allow them to own one house or apartment after they are in the country for at least six months.
Foreigners, excluding diplomats and those who work for non-governmental organizations, will also be allowed to buy and own houses and apartments once they get a work permit in Vietnam.
Now foreigners can only buy apartments and not houses and only if they fulfill certain conditions like having a Vietnamese spouse or invest in the country.
Minister of Construction Trinh Dinh Dung said the proposals are meant to encourage foreign investment in the property sector and enable international integration.
But at a recent meeting of the National Assembly's Law Committee, Dang Dinh Luyen, the committee's deputy chairman, said the proposed rules would make it “too easy” for foreigners, allowing anyone who moves to Vietnam to buy houses here.
People must be required to stay for at least three months before being granted such rights, he argued.
Le Minh Thong, another vice chairman, disagreed saying the property market needs to be opened, not restricted.
He said in developed countries foreigners are not restricted from buying and owning property, pointing out that what matters most is managing their use of the properties.
He suggested imposing progressive taxes from the second house onwards bought by Viet kieu and foreigners to prevent speculation.
The amendments will be discussed by the parliamentary Standing Committee and then the full house in May.

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