State-owned apart­ment bill in draft stage

The Myanmar Times - - News - Za­yarlinn@mm­times.com ZAY YAR LIN

“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

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