Vietnam News

Saigon residents lose homes after buying cheap land via hand-written papers

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Many families in HCMC’s Binh Tan District had to hand over their homes after authorities followed up on warnings made years ago that the land they bought was encroaching public land.

Dang Van Mui, 56, lost his house three weeks ago. What used to be the house, which spread 100 sq.m and had one floor, is now a heap of ruins.  

The house was demolished as it was built on a land plot designated for a public park.

Mui and his wife spent VND518 million (US$21,000) buying the land in 2018.

They bought it via hand-written papers only as the former owners of the land did not have official ownership certificates.

At that time, Mui thought he had bought a piece of land at a bargain price because a 45-sq.m apartment lying 100 m away was priced at nearly VND700 million. After buying the land, he built a small house without asking for a construction permit. 

In 2019, he spent nearly VND1 billion to rebuild the house and expand it. Back then, local authorities came to warn him, but it took until this year for them to act.

Now, the authorities have forced residents of around 150 illegally built homes in the district to move.

“We’ve been staying here for years and now we cannot afford to move elsewhere,” Mui said. His family now takes temporary shelter next to their former house.

Around 20m away, the family of Pham Van Phuong, 50, is in the same situation.

Phuong’s family is living in tents after their house was demolished two weeks ago.

In 2018, Phuong borrowed money to buy a land plot of 70 sq.m at VND300 million, also via hand-written papers, and build a house.

“My wife and I had been living in rented apartments for almost 20 years and we always longed to have a house in Saigon,” he said.

In 2019, the local authorities also gave them a warning, but it was not until a few months ago that they handed Phuong a decision to dismantle the house in mid-October.

Phuong said he lacked understanding of the regulations and at the same time, the authorities did not stop them from building the house in the first place. As a result, his family had built one thinking that they would live there for many years to come.

The illegally built homes, in Tan Tao Ward of Binh Tan District, must be dismantled and the land returned to its original state.

According to the People’s Committee of Tan Tao, most of the homes were built at the end of 2019.

At that time, the local management was not strict enough, and therefore many people built houses in areas designated as farmland and parks. 

To date, about 60 homes have been dismantled and the ward will finish the demolition within next month.

Nguyen Minh Nhut, chairman of Binh Tan District, said when detecting the violations, the local authorities only gave warnings and did not handle them harshly enough, allowing them to last for many years. 

He said the management staff saw that the families were poor and in difficult situations and had therefore tolerated their encroachment.

After a few first cases were tolerated, others looked at them as an example they could follow and as a result, more and more had come to buy land and build homes, he added.

“People should seek a construction permit to build houses or any facility and should not buy land with unclear origins to protect their own rights and interests,” he said.

By Dinh Van – – October 25, 202

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