Many people in big cities in Vietnam could be scammed while trying to find a temporary home due to their lack of legal understanding related to rental property.
Several tenants have reported falling for the tricks of con artists as they looked for places to live in Ho Chi Minh City.
Scammers often take advantage of loopholes in housing laws as well as the innocence of those who are new to the city.
Tran Minh Hung, a 20-year-old sophomore, recalled when he fell victim to one of the fraudulent schemes.
“I found an online advertisement in which a room in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, was said to be leased at VND1.5 million [US$67.26] per month. Other utility and Wi-Fi costs were claimed to total VND300,000 [$13.45] a month,” Hung said.
As the venue fit all of his criteria, the student decided to pay a VND1 million ($44.8) upfront and expected to move in the new place in about three days.
During a meeting for contract signing a few days later, the landlord quoted the leasing price at VND4 million ($179.3), including exorbitant monthly costs of electricity and water, as well as other fees.
“They continued to list many unreasonable rules to scare me away. If I decided to terminate the contract, I would end up losing my upfront payment,” Hung explained.
He discovered that the landlord was not the house owner once he reported the case to local authorities.
According to Le Trung Phat, a Vietnamese lawyer, the lessor in Hung’s story violated the rules by not sticking to the originally agreed conditions.
“Tenants should pay attention to the identity of the landlords, who should have legitimate documents proving their ownership of the property,” Phat recommended.
Lawyer Truong Xuan Tam added that tenants must ask for an authorization letter from house owners when signing a deal with an intermediary.
Contract in detail
It is also advisable that lodgers read carefully all conditions listed in a contract before agreeing to make any form of payment, the lawyer stated.
A lawful agreement must indicate a specific price, the applicable period, any potential increase in cost, and other utility fees, based on which any emerging conflict between the two parties will be resolved.
Tenants should also reach consensus with their lessors on who will pay the expenses regarding repairs and renovations to the property.
Bringing it to court
Any unsolved dispute between tenants and landlords could be addressed to local administrations or courts.
“People who falsify paperwork of house ownership to trick tenants would be charged for fraud and property appropriation,” Phat said.
If landlords deliberately violate a leasing contract, lodgers have the right to demand compensation for their advance payment and other emerging cost during their relocation.