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Property Developer in Court Again

More than 100 people who bought property from Shanghai Wanbang Enterprise are suing because of a delay in obtaining ownership deeds. Attorneys representing the purchasers and the company presented evidence at Shanghai Pudong New Area District People's Court yesterday.

According to Lu Yuanxiang, one of the 134 plaintiffs, about 500 people who bought houses, part of phase five of Wanbang City Garden, all have the same problem.

Lu said he was happy with the location of the property and the quality of construction was acceptable. "All I want are the deeds."

Shanghai Wanbang said it still has not received documents from the municipal government necessary for the company to release the deeds.

Wang Baohong, attorney for the company, said the reason for the delay was complicated and that it was inappropriate to say anything before the official hearing, the date for which has not yet been set.

Wang said the company might be able to give residents their certificates before the end of the year.
China Daily reported today that calls to the Shanghai Housing and Land Administrative Bureau on Monday went unanswered.

An architect working for Vanke, a large real estate developer, said the local government is only hesitant to release certificates when the developer does not provide all necessary documentation.

This is not the first time the company has been sued for delaying sending out deeds.

Earlier this year, Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court ordered it to pay more than 4 million yuan (US$494,800) to 120 of its phase three Wanbang City Garden residents.

The company was also fined 200,000 yuan (US$24,700) for giving false sales information, according to Shanghai Municipal Industry and Commerce Administration.

In order to develop a more transparent industry and curb inappropriate practices, the municipal government established a property sales website last April. All developers must publish sales information online, including prices, availability and the names of those who buy houses.

However, the industry and commerce administration said Wanbang asked its employees to pretend to buy houses to give the impression all of its properties had been sold.

Staff then persuaded genuine buyers to pay inflated prices to secure the homes which had supposedly already found buyers.

Tang Yinhua, one of the plaintiffs present in court yesterday, told China Daily that she paid 80,000 yuan (US$9,900) more than the published price in order to secure her apartment.

Wang said that far from being company policy, individual members of staff were responsible for unlawfully inflated prices.

(China Daily November 1, 2005)

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