Unlocking Homes: Clearing the Path for Tens of Thousands of Residences in Ho Chi Minh City

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In early 2015, Ms. Nguyen Vinh Trang signed a contract to purchase an apartment at the Lexington Residence complex (Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City) from Nova Lexington Real Estate JSC.

Losing a justified case

By mid-March 2021, Ms. Trang’s dossier and those of other households were received by the Land Registration Office for the issuance of land use rights certificates and ownership of houses and other assets attached to the land (pink book). After a long wait, Ms. Trang filed a lawsuit, requesting the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City to compel the Land Registration Office to issue the pink book.

In June 2023, the first trial took place, and at the end of March 2024, the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City announced its first-instance verdict.

According to the judges, the apartment purchased by Ms. Trang was part of a project that had not been granted a pink book due to changes in planning indicators, and the developer had not provided proof of fulfilling their financial obligations but only had a document showing a temporary payment of VND 83 billion. As a result, the court rejected the lawsuit.

There are dozens of other projects in the same situation as Ms. Trang’s apartment complex, where the pink book has not been issued due to additional financial obligations. According to the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, from the effective date of the 2013 Land Law (July 1, 2014) to April 2023, there were 81,085 units in many projects that had not been granted pink books, falling into 6 groups of problems. Among them, 10,277 units in 39 projects are in the process of being granted pink books but have been temporarily halted due to additional financial obligations; 10,277 units in 18 projects are halted due to ongoing inspections and investigations; 8,918 units are hindered by regulations on new types of real estate…

Hoang Anh – Thanh Binh (District 7, Ho Chi Minh City) is one of many apartment buildings that have not been granted a pink book due to financial obligations.

Based on the directions of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, since May 2023, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment has implemented plans to address difficulties and speed up the issuance of pink books for projects in the aforementioned 6 groups. However, the results have not met expectations.

Mr. Nguyen Nhu Binh, Head of the Land Economy Department – Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Ho Chi Minh City, said that determining financial obligations faced many obstacles. Accordingly, some projects with adjustments in planning, land use structure, and prolonged legal processes involved dozens of decisions on adjustments, supplements, and changes in land use structure, planning, and area… which complicated the determination of additional financial obligations.

Similar challenges were encountered in the process of land price appraisal. According to Mr. Binh, it was very difficult to find a consulting unit for land price appraisal when it came to dossiers related to adjustments and supplements in planning and land use structure. The city has invited tenders for appraisal many times, but no consulting unit has participated.

Addressing 14 difficulties

Recently, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment submitted a proposal to the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City on the project “Solutions to overcome difficulties and obstacles in the work of specific land price appraisal in Ho Chi Minh City”

The proposal states that the work of determining specific land prices starts with selecting a consulting unit with the function of appraising land prices. The city has many project dossiers that have been publicly invited for tenders to select land price appraisal consultants, but no unit has participated, leading to a deadlock in determining land prices.

The proposal identifies 14 difficulties and accompanying solutions. For projects with areas of land managed by the state, such as canals (no longer used for water drainage), scattered alleys within the project, which do not meet the conditions to be separated into independent projects, the competent authorities shall evaluate and unify criteria as a basis for implementing the work of determining land prices according to the decisions of the People’s Committee already issued.

For cases where land use fees have not been paid and projects have been prolonged but the progress has been extended, in addition to paying financial obligations related to land according to the approved land prices by the People’s Committee, the land user must also pay the state an additional amount corresponding to the land use fee and land rent for the period of delayed project implementation.

According to the list announced by the Ministry of Finance, there are nearly 100 enterprises registered to operate with the function of land price appraisal in Ho Chi Minh City. However, there are fewer than 10 enterprises actually performing land price appraisal work.

According to the proposal, for dossiers related to social housing obligations, the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City agrees to apply the time of collecting land use fees according to Article 108 of the 2013 Land Law and Article 155 of the 2024 Land Law so that the land user can fulfill the social housing obligation in the form of paying an amount equivalent to 20% of the land fund value at the time of determining the land price.

Another difficulty is cases where projects are being inspected, audited, investigated, or requested for dossiers and explanations by auditing agencies. The solution is that, depending on the specific case, the city’s competent authorities will advise the People’s Committee to send documents to the relevant agencies to request their opinions on whether conducting a specific land price determination will affect the inspection, audit, investigation, or not. 

After receiving an affirmative response from the competent agency, the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City will direct the relevant agencies to continue advising on the determination of land prices.

Revenue of more than 80,000 billion VND

According to the proposal, through reviews, it is estimated that nearly 80,000 land plots and apartment units have not been granted pink books due to the inability to determine specific land prices for land users to fulfill their financial obligations. If comprehensive solutions are implemented to overcome these obstacles, more than 100 project dossiers will be resolved, granting over 80,000 pink books, and bringing in revenue of more than 80,000 billion VND.

It is expected that the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City will approve the proposal in May, organize the implementation in June, and conduct a one-year review in June 2025. A summary of the proposal’s implementation will be carried out in June 2027.

Article and photos: QUOC ANH

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