First illegal low-income housing trading case uncovered: report

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Hanoi police said they have discovered the first case of illegal trading in low-cost housing, following reports that some apartments developed for the poor were offered to better-off buyers.

News website VnExpress on Thursday reported that Cao Thi Loan was found to have sold her VND600 million (US$29,000) apartment to another buyer for VND1.1 billion.

The apartment belongs to the Ngo Thi Nham Building in Ha Dong District, the first-ever low-income housing project in the capital city. Eligible buyers from the project are not allowed to sell these apartments to anyone other than the developer in the first ten years.

Loan's buyer, Nguyen Thi Thanh Tam, told the police that she only lent Loan some money and, in return, she was allowed to stay in the apartment. Investigators rejected her claim, saying that they were involved in a trading transaction.

"Tam was holding the key. She also bought air conditioners, floor tiles and kitchen cupboard," VnExpress cited a senior police officer as saying.

Vinaconex Xuan Mai, the project developer, has been ordered to take back the apartment in its original condition and refund the official buyer. Nobody is allowed to enter the apartment now, city officials said.

The case came to light after local media reported that some low-income housing owners were selling their apartments for profits. The original price of VND8.8 million per square meter was reportedly pushed to up to VND23 million.

The reports prompted an investigation at the Ngo Thi Nham Building, but no violation was reported until now, the Vietnam Economic Times reported.

Vietnam has launched several affordable housing projects in an attempt to assist low-income earners.

Strict criteria on income, residency and social contributions were formulated to make sure the houses end up with the right buyers. Each family can only apply for low-cost housing one project at a time and their applications are considered based on those criteria.

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