Dispute exposes flaw in property law

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 April, 2007, 12:00am

Dozens of homeowners at a Beijing residential block embroiled in a long-running dispute over water boilers staged a sit-in yesterday at the headquarters of the Capital Group, parent company of Hong Kong-listed Beijing Capital Land.

The Jianxiangyuan residents said they took the action after exhausting official channels to have their grievances heard. They believe they should have control of the boilers, but the developer disputes this.

The tussle underscores the rising tension between homeowners and developers in the absence of a Supreme People's Court clarification of ownership of facilities within a residential block under the newly passed property rights law.

A Capital Group subsidiary, Beijing Capital Technology Investment (BCTI), cut off hot-water supplies over a month ago to the more than 2,000 residents of the complex in north Beijing.

Ren Chenguang , head of the Jianxiangyuan Homeowners' Committee, has been on hunger strike since Thursday.

Mr Ren said BCTI had failed to honour an agreement on the transfer of boiler facilities, as well as a pledge to provide residents with hot water around the clock before the transfer.

An official from Capital Group did not respond to phone calls yesterday.

Mr Ren said BCTI had told the residents they needed a two-thirds majority to stake a claim on the boilers.

Mr Ren said such a precondition was unlawful and vowed not to give up his hunger strike until the residents had been given control of the boilers.