Waiver of apartment maintenance fee proposed

The HCMC Department of Construction has proposed abolishing regulations on the collection of apartment maintenance fees to handle disputes between apartment building investors and management boards.

Under the prevailing regulations, apartment building investors are responsible for collecting the apartment maintenance fee, equivalent to 2% of the value of apartments, from apartment owners. The maintenance fee for unsold apartments is paid by the investors.

The fees must be deposited at banks and transferred to the building management boards after they are established. However, the high revenue has led to disputes between the investors and management boards.

Nguyen Thanh Hai, head of the Housing and Office Management Division, under the HCMC Department of Construction, said that most disputes between building developers and management boards are related to maintenance fees.

He proposed collecting the fee monthly or quarterly or in cases of damages. If apartment owners fail to pay the fee, they should face certain sanctions, he noted.

According to Tran Trong Tuan, director of the municipal Department of Construction, disputes over the collection of the apartment maintenance fee could trigger social instability.

Garry, a representative of a Chinese-invested real estate firm in Vietnam, remarked that his firm also invests in property projects in Malaysia and Hong Kong, but these markets have no regulations on the collection of apartment maintenance fees. Investors collect the so-called management fee, which is used for ensuring the safety of the apartments and repairing any damage.

On the other hand, many experts threw their weight behind the fee collection, while calling for transparency in the collection.

Lawyer Tran Duc Phuong from the HCMC Bar Association noted that the regulation on fee collections is not tight enough, as each project includes many apartments and apartments can be put up for sale multiple times and at different prices.

In addition, it takes at least two years to establish apartment building management boards. During this time, building investors may use the fee revenue for other purposes.

Further, members of management boards may not be able to monitor the amounts handed over by investors, leading to potential losses, Phuong added.

Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCMC Real Estate Association, said that at present, the management boards of many buildings in the city include only one member, which may lead to an abuse of power to misappropriate the funds.

Therefore, apartment building management boards must have at least two members, including a representative of the investors, Chau proposed.

Due to the increasing number of disputes related to apartment maintenance fees, a leader of the HCMC Department of Construction remarked, the city government has asked the competent departments and agencies, as well as 24 districts, to enhance State control over the operation and management of apartment buildings.

The municipal police will have to conduct investigations and charge those caught violating regulations on apartment building operations and management, especially those caught misappropriating or otherwise misusing the apartment maintenance fees.


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