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Hanoi Bans Shops, Cafes From Apartment Buildings

Hanoi authorities recently approved a regulation banning businesses from setting up shop in the capital's apartments.

In recent years, shopping and dining at apartment buildings has become a trend among young people in both Hanoi and Saigon, much to the dismay of apartment tenants. At 42 Nguyen Hue Street, one of the most popular such buildings in Saigon, tenants have been complaining about noise and safety issues resulting from a growing number of patrons frequenting the shops, cafes and restaurants within the structure. According to Tuoi Tre, only 20 families still live in this decades-old building, while most of the original tenants have rented out their units.

“The shops do not close until 11:00 pm, and the building is extremely noisy on weekends,” N.T.D., an anonymous resident who lives on the eighth floor, told Tuoi Tre.

“It used to be much easier to oversee the building when there were only residential tenants,” she continued. “Now that there is always a sea of people coming and going, it is impossible to ensure security.”

V.N., another tenant who rents an apartment on the fourth floor, also expressed discontent that the residential building is turning into “something like a supermarket”.

However, for business owners, renting a unit here is a sound financial decision as the cost is much lower than a storefront location. A 40-square-meter apartment unit is available for rent at US$670 (VND15 million) per month, while renting a storefront in the same area in District 1 costs at least US$1,786.

In Hanoi, the Department of Planning and Investment has ordered businesses at residential apartments to move to other sites. Organizations and enterprises located in these buildings will have to register with relevant agencies for relocation.

Some business owners find the new law unfair and have expressed that authorities should only require businesses with high risk of fire and explosion to relocate.

Tran Cong Bay, owner of a fashion shop in an apartment in Hanoi, does not want to relocate. He shared with Tuoi Tre that “most of [his] business is done via Internet and phone transactions” and hence does not affect residents.

[Photo via Thanh Nien]

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