Foreigners may be allowed to lease apartments for 70 years
Andrew Hilton, senior associate of leading international law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, said that foreigners living in Vietnam who had made contributions to the country were being overlooked.
“I have been living, working and paying taxes in Vietnam for over nine years and should not be disadvantaged because I have not married a Vietnamese,” Hilton said.
Personal income tax or living in Vietnam for a certain period were criteria and a clearer definition of what constitutes an “expert”, should be added, Hilton said.
Brett Ashton, managing director of Savills Vietnam, said that obtaining housing certificates in Vietnam was a laborious task that could take months to complete.
“It will be that much harder for foreigners who do not speak or read Vietnamese when dealing with the authorities,” he said.
“It would be better if they restrict the transfer of property for one year after completion. This is clear and transparent and can be easily documented for all parties,” he added.
The draft regulation allows for foreigners and foreign-invested enterprises to ‘lease’ apartments for 70 years.
Hilton said he was surprised that ownership is not stated as “long term and stable use” which is the term used for Vietnamese nationals.
Ashton said 70 years was adequate, but the term should be renewable. He said foreigners should be afforded the same rights as locals.
“It is a step in the right direction and while foreigners would like equal rights to those of Vietnamese, it will take time for this to happen,” he said.
“The law should ensure that if foreigners sell their units, it is easy for Vietnamese buyers to pay either in Vietnam or in the seller’s country of residence.”
The draft regulation will be submitted to the National Assembly for approval next month. If it is approved, it would come into effect from January 1, 2009.
According to MoC, more than 80,000 foreigners had worked and lived in Vietnam from 2004 to 2007.
The MoC expects a maximum of 20 per cent of these residents to meet the proposal’s requirements, or 16,000 foreigners.
Bich Ngoc (vir.com.vn)