More than 52,000 flats in Hanoi which the State built before doi moi (renewal) in 1986 and offered to transfer to individual ownership have not been sold due to disputes or problems with plans and procedures.

The situation has caused a headache for local authorities after 15 years of trying to transfer ownership.

Figures released by the municipal construction department showed the city had around 210,000 flats on 6,300,000sq.m of land, 7,000 of which could not be sold or granted registration certificates because of planning problems, disputes and those listed in the protected Old Quarter.

The department said the implementation of the decree which transferred the ownership of houses from the State to individuals and organisations had not been completed as agencies had not strictly managed applications for buying the houses.

The decree, which was promulgated in 1994, was aimed at terminating subsidies in the housing sector. People who had rented a State-owned house or apartment could be eligible to buy them.

The decree had given low-income people in State-owned enterprises the opportunity to own a house. Prices were often cheap because they would be discounted.

Department deputy director Nguyen Quoc Tuan said some local People's Committees had not been in a rush to resolve the issue, leaving 32,000 applications for houses and apartments pending.

The number of applications in Long Bien District was 9,500, Hoang Mai District 2,000, Tay Ho District 1,000, and Tu Liem 967.

Tuan said some complicated applications had not been settled as sold and unsold houses had been grouped together, causing difficulties for management, maintenance and improvement.

Nguyen Duc Bien, head of Hanoi's Land Clearance Steering Committee, said: "People who own houses under the decree, sharing old apartment buildings, had not reached a common agreement, causing a slowdown in the renovation of the buildings."

Municipal People's Committee Vice Chairman Nguyen Van Khoi said the city would continue to publish procedures, applications and timeframes for selling the houses, promoting a one-stop shop mechanism and establishing a hotline to resolve questions./.

The city would also regularly co-operate with relevant agencies to carry out checks on the applications and to resolve violations.

Khoi said they would review and classify delayed applications to accelerate the granting of household ownership registrations.

The municipal People's Committee, in co-operation with relevant units, would review the situation every quarter.

The city also proposed using unsold houses for social housing projects with a suitable mechanism to attract investment./.