State-owned apartment bill in draft stage
“HOMES for life” will soon be a thing of the past. The government is drafting a bill to end the system by which state-owned apartments are rented out to tenants who can sublet them to others or pass them on to their descendants.
Rents – now as low as K12.5 (US$0.01) per square foot – could also be raised.
U Min Aung Aye, a deputy director in the construction ministry’s Department of Urban and Housing Development, said the new law, expected to be drafted by the end of next year, would lay down stricter rules.
“After we’ve completed the draft, we will proceed to submit it to parliament. No legislation or regulations governing rental housing have been introduced yet,” he said.
“The authorities rent out apartments and then transfer responsibility for managing the properties to us. It’s hard to supervise them,” he added.
Rental accommodation built by previous governments was let to the public, civil servants and retirees at low rents, with the DUHD responsible for rent collection and estate management.
In the absence of related legislation, tenants can live there as long as they like, and even pass on their apartments to their children as if they owned the rooms, critics of the system say.
The DUHD wants to introduce systematic maintenance procedures and set up estate management committees. It would also control illegal transfers and rental payments.
“In other countries, the lease period [for public housing] is restricted to five years, and occupants must leave if the lease expires. But in Myanmar, people act as if they’ve been granted permanent residence. They are tenants living in government-owned buildings, but they oppose any government upgrading plans,” he said.
The DUHD’s draft law would introduce five-year leases and provision for taking action upon expiry of the lease, or any misconduct by a tenant. Existing legislation for dealing with bad tenants goes back to a 1955 law the government wants to update.
“It’s quite hard to deal with tenants. That’s why we need a law,” said U Min Aung Aye.
The draft rental housing bill will feature restrictions on tenants as well as other rules for occupying and maintaining apartments. Estate management committees would comprise tenants, administrators and local MPs.
In Yangon, the 16,000 rental apartments in 11 blocks were built in the socialist era. Their monthly rent is calculated on the basis of K12 and 50 pya per square foot, paid to the DUHD.
A 600 sq ft apartment in the 1152-apartment Mahabandoola project in South Dagon township costs K30,000 a month to rent.
– Translation by Zar Zar Soe