Angry homeowners up in arms over developer delay

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2006, 12:00am

Dozens of Beijing property owners protested yesterday outside the headquarters of a state-owned property developer, demanding the handover of homes they have already paid for.

'We want our apartments. Tell us why you have delayed the project,' the demonstrators shouted outside the Beijing Uni-Construction Group office.

Li Gang , 29, a spokesman for the protesters, said they represented more than 3,000 property owners from the group's Cuicheng Xiaoqu Estate in Chaoyang district. They have yet to receive keys to their apartments even though they paid for the homes in full in 2002 and 2003.

The owners were supposed to move into their apartments three years after they paid the money.

'We suspect our money has been embezzled because some construction workers at Cuicheng told us the group owed millions of yuan in wages to the workers,' Mr Li said.

He said the owners had paid more than 3,000 yuan per square metre for their apartments, but none had been completed on schedule and construction had not started on some buildings due to be completed in June.

'We have complained to the Beijing municipal government, the municipal construction committee and other government bodies, but none of them dare handle our case. That's why we have come here,' Mr Li said.

Protests over soured property deals have become a widespread phenomenon in urban areas on the mainland because of a lack of a transparency among developers and limited avenues of recourse for property owners.

Protester Chen Jing , 48, said she paid 350,000 yuan for a 108 square metre apartment in 2003. 'The contract said I would get my apartment in June this year. But as of yesterday, there was nothing at the site. I am so worried,' she said.

She had to sell her old apartment to pay for the new one and had spent more than 30,000 yuan renting accommodation for her family while they waited to move into their new home.

The demonstration continued for more than an hour yesterday before a group construction manager agreed to meet the protesters. He insisted the company would stick to the construction timetable and all owners would receive the deeds to their properties in 2008.