No legal framework for office-tel segment
An artist’s impression of the interior of an office-tel unit - Photo: TL
HCMC - Office-tel has become a buzzword on the domestic property market in recent years as housing developers have embraced it as a new product for those wishing to use it as both an office and a home. However, there is no legal framework for this segment.
Experts shared this view at a seminar on office-tel development needs and legal obstacles.
In the past three years, office-tel development has grown tremendously, especially in HCMC with 40-50 projects.
Nguyen Tran Nam, chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Association, said the legal system had not been adjusted to cover this segment, creating a legal vacuum which has caused concerns among investors and customers.
“The biggest problem is whether a short- or long-term land use right certificate should be issued for the owner since an office-tel can be used for both living and work,” Nam said.
For example, he said, the developer of a 10-storey building may set aside seven upper floors for apartments which are entitled to long-term land use right certification and the other three for office-tel units, with a land use term of only 50 years. “After 50 years, what will the authorities do to handle this project? Would they dismantle the three lower floors?”
Lawyer Tran Duc Phuong at the HCMC Bar Association said the 2014 Housing Law specifies an apartment could be used for either residential or commercial purpose. Therefore, he proposed legal changes be made in a way that recognizes office-tel.
Associate Professor Doan Hong Nhung at the School of Law at the Vietnam National University - Hanoi said office-tel could be owned for a period of 50 years and that one or two persons could domicile there, so it could not be registered as a residential property.
Office-tel purchasers often ask developers for home ownership certificates. However, the current law allows the possession of this type of property for 50 years, so developers do not promise whether or not buyers can get house ownership certificates, said Le Dinh Trung, deputy general director of Dream House Corp.
Legal provisions should be amended to allow people to own an office-tel unit as a home.
Nguyen Manh Khoi, deputy head of the Department of Housing and Real Estate Market Management at the Ministry of Construction, said that to build a legal framework for this type of real estate, there would be five things to deal with.
First, an office-tel unit should be accurately defined as a mix of office and home, or an apartment unit. Second, ownership should last 50 years or longer. Third, there should be clear guidelines as to whether investors are allowed to develop office-tel buildings on residential or mix-use land. Fourth, if office-tel is seen as a home, investors must pay a different land use fee. Fifth, office-tel should have its own design standards, utilities and infrastructure.
Nhung suggested looking into the office-tel model in Western countries. If most of the units are used as homes, it should be classified as a residence. Otherwise, it should be treated as a non-residential space.