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Capital moves to curtail homes with 'limited property rights'

By Jin Haixing | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-20 07:22


Capital moves to curtail homes with 'limited property rights'

Workers dismantle illegally built houses on collectively owned rural land in Changping, Beijing, in November. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

Beijing plans this year to strictly control the recent increase of houses that have "limited property rights" and were illegally built on collectivelyowned rural lands, authorities said.

Deputy Mayor Chen Gang said that the city government has a zero-tolerance policy for such illegal houses under construction or for sale.

The government will eventually demolish such illegal homes built on riverbanks, farmland or dangerous areas, while the fate of other such houses will be determined on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Chen made the remarks during a conference with the city's political advisers last week.

But while the city has tightened administration over the illegal projects and demolishing three in December, experts and the owners of the houses say the government's policy on the projects is still unclear.

Limited property rights houses are those built on collectively owned rural lands without official approval. Such properties are popular with homebuyers in a pricey housing market, but the houses have no legal protection.

Collective land can be developed commercially only after undergoing expropriation procedures and being converted into State-owned construction land, according to land regulations.

Since 2012, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Land and Resources has released a list of housing projects with limited property rights, warning residents against purchasing the homes.

In December, the government of Beijing's northern Changping district forced the demolition of three such projects that were under construction.

The demolished living area was 13,500 square meters, authorities said.

So far, 108 limited property rights housing projects have been identified. Of those, seven have been demolished, while 18 others were ordered to correct problems with their construction or sale, the bureau said.

Chen Baocun, a real estate expert, said that the problem with limited property rights housing is not an easy one for the government.

In the cases of projects that already had people living there, "the issues related to ownership and people living there were difficult to untangle", Chen said.

A major problem was that the government did not give a clear definition of what exactly constitutes a house with limited property rights.

Chen said any such house built on rural farmland should be demolished, but it is not realistic to demolish all such homes on other types of collective land.

The government should convert those houses into public rental houses or collect land transfer fees from the houses' owners, Chen said.

But many real estate agencies are still involved in the buying and selling of Beijing houses with limited property rights.

A search with the keywords "limited property rights house" got 3,900 listings in, a major local online market.

Zhang Pan, a real estate agent with Beijing Tianyuan Haoye Properties Co, said that she can help homebuyers find many limited property rights houses in the Tongzhou district.

Those houses have below-average prices, but homebuyers cannot get bank loans for them, Zhang said.

However, Zhang said she isn't worried about the future of limited property rights houses.

"I know that all of the limited property rights houses are illegal. But the government cannot demolish all of them because they become the private assets of farmers after construction."



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