Govt signals crackdown on unauthorised occupants of state-owned apartments

Residents of government-owned apartment blocks could soon face eviction if they are found to be occupying their homes illegally, a housing official has warned.

Since 1951, the government has built several apartment blocks in Yangon to house military and civilian staff. In many cases others have since taken possession, often following the death or transfer of the original inhabitants.

But the apartments – or, more strictly, the right to live in the dwelling – are regularly sold, with agents quoting prices of up to K100 million depending on the location and condition. Some are also rented, with one block in Dagon township particularly popular with foreigners.

In a recent interview with The Myanmar Times, the director of the Ministry of Construction’s Urban and Housing Development Department for Yangon Region, U Yu Khine, said more than 16,000 apartment blocks had been built for staff. They pay a monthly rent to the government, although the amount is a fraction of the market rate.

The largest is Yankin Housing in Yankin township, with 3700 apartments which were originally allocated to Tatmadaw officers and other government servants.

“Of these 3700 apartments, about 3500 are now occupied by relatives of the original tenants, to whom they were informally transferred. This seems to be against the rules, and I’m considering what to do about it,” he said.

A property law dating back to 1955 appears to authorise the removal, by force if necessary, of tenants who occupy rented accommodation without proper rights to do so.

The unofficial transfers of many apartments occurred because of a shortage of supervisory staff, said U Yu Khine, adding that he hoped the incoming government would remedy the deficiency.

“For the past 10 years no housing inspection officers have been deployed because of budget shortages. That has allowed people to break the rules by transferring, subletting or even selling their apartments,” he said.

The government has indicated that it may invoke legal action to remove many of the current tenants.

Responding to a question from Amyotha Hluttaw MP U Phone Myint Aung on this issue in parliament, deputy construction minister U Soe Tint said the government would now rectify a situation in which family members or associates of former tenants had been able to occupy government-owned property without proper authority.

But U Yu Khine was less enthusiastic about forced removal, saying that evicting current tenants “will be difficult and may take a long time”.

“We don’t want to have to call in the police. Authorised or not, most of the people who live in these apartments are still government staff,” he said.

By contrast, large detachments of police are regularly deployed to squatter camps as hundreds of families displaced by armed conflict or natural disaster are turned out of their homes, which are then destroyed by bulldozers.

Government-owned housing in Yangon includes blocks on Lan Thit Avenue, Pha Sa Pa La Housing, Min Ma Naing Housing, 51st Street Housing, Yankin Housing, Lint Lan Housing and Thuwunna Housing Projects.

One common method by which authorised tenants have transferred the tenancy to others is by having the new tenant added to the original renter’s household registration list, said one resident of Thuwunna Housing.

“They get their name on the family register of the original tenant. If the tenant wants to sell, prices vary considerably. Some apartments cost more than K100 million. But rents [to the government] are often low, maybe K6000 a month. A lot of people want to buy, and prices are negotiable.”

 

Source: Myanmar Times

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