Residents of a social housing project in Hà Nội are complaining that while the infrastructure is deteriorating, their rent keeps rising and is way beyond what State employees can afford.
|Fire protection equipments in the building are either not available or not functioning properly.-Photo infonet.vn|
The CT19A apartment building, located in the new urban area of Việt Hưng in Long Biên District, is one of the first social housing projects meant for civil servants in the capital city. With 500 apartments, it, however, meets only a fraction of the demand for houses for State employees, Info.net, online newspaper of the Ministry of Information and Communications, reported.
To secure a rent in one of the 500 apartments, all State employees have to go through a strict assessment process. The list of those eligible is sent by the employing State agency to a review board for final consideration before it is submitted to the municipal People’s Committee.
However, clearing these rounds of assessment is no longer enough for those who want to live in the CT19A building, which is supposed to be affordable.
Nguyễn Thị Doanh, a representative of the building’s residential bloc, said that since 2011, the rent was already VNĐ29,100 per sq.m (US$1.3) plus VNĐ2,400 (0.1 US cent) general service fee per sq.m, which adds up to a total rent of VNĐ1.8 million ($79) a month for a 52 sq.m apartment, and around VNĐ2 million ($88) for a larger apartment. State employees complain that this rent is too steep against the average income of an ordinary civil servant, and what’s worse is that this rent keeps increasing.
Doanh said that since mid-2014, Hà Nội People’s Committee has allowed the building owners to hike rent to VNĐ 54,111 ($2.4) a month per sq.m for a 40-year lease term, plus an increase of 12 per cent after each “price adjustment period”, which would raise the rent to VNĐ 85,145 ($3.7) a month per sq.m during the last three years of the 40-year term.
“The contradiction here is that we have to pay more for a building that is declining in quality. Aren’t the city authorities making a mistake somewhere? Their decision was totally unreasonable and when we protested, they temporarily suspended the decision, and decided to maintain a rent of VNĐ29,100 a month until the end of 2016,” Doanh said.
But this February, the People’s Committee once again approved a joint proposal by the department of construction and the department of finance, which will increase the rent to VNĐ34,176 ($1.5) per sq.m, effective from 2017 January.
Once again, residents are protesting against the new rate. They have demanded that officials transparently share the details of how the rate has been arrived upon, and that there be a meeting between relevant agencies and residents before any price change is enacted.
Problems with the building
The structure has leakages, moulds and cracked walls; the pavements have caved in; the fire protection equipment is either not functioning or lacking altogether; the garage floors are damaged; and there’s a lack of elevators, residents point out as arguments against paying higher rent.
Nguyễn Thị Thược, a resident, said the building’s annual maintenance fee may touch VNĐ1 billion ($44,000) a year, which without fail, is always accounted for in the owners’ arguments for hiking rent. However, residents said there’s very little improvement in the building’s maintenance since years. “We honestly don’t know what the management board of the building uses our money for anymore,” Thược said.