New costs anger homebuyers

16:22, November 23, 2009      

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A group of homebuyers have been slapped with a total of 10 million yuan in additional costs after the developer miscalculated the floor space of their Beijing apartment building.

Homeowners are threatening to sue well-known Taiwan architect Chuang Yao-shan, who designed the Xinbao Riverbank Manor in southern Beijing's Xuanwu district, and investment company Xinbao Property Development Corporation.

A total of 396 apartments were sold in the building and buyers were charged 20,000 - 27,000 yuan per sq m. However, residents were told recently that they each had to pay between 3,000 - 60,000 yuan for their apartments.

Xinbao Property Development Corporation told residents that it had miscalculated the floor space of the apartment building and its construction incurred higher than expected costs.

Xinbao is one of the first buildings in Beijing to be designed by a Taiwanese architect. Chuang also designed the National Taipei University in Taipei.

Julia Chen, a 32-year-old bank employee, who bought a two-bedroom apartment covering 97 sq m in July said she was told she had to pay an additional 60,000 yuan for her apartment when she went to pick up the keys in October.

"It's not a small sum for my family," Chen said.

"The most ridiculous thing is that the sales staff had asked us to put a down payment and take out a loan based on floor space, but now they charge additional fees," said Chen.

"Besides the additional area fee, the developer also asked us to pay deed tax and capital repair fund which should not be until we get our property ownership certificate."

Qin Bing, the lawyer who has been contacted by the owners of Xinbao and may take the compensation case, told METRO the area was a miscalculation related to the balcony.

On the drawings, the balcony is semi-covered and it was totally enclosed when constructed.

"For a half-closed porch, it charges half the price of a totally closed one," Qin said.

"Every year, there are more than 100 cases on disputed additional area in Beijing. Owners should pay attention to this when they sign the contract," said Qin.

Pi Tao, a Xinbao saleswoman, denied the charge for additional space was a disguised price increase.

Pi said the area difference between architectural blueprint and its construction is a universal phenomenon. "Such an area error is acceptable according to laws," she said.

About 100 property owners have established an online chat group on QQ social networking site.

"I've already bought all my furnishings and used up all my savings. I have no money to pay the so-called additional area fee," an owner surnamed Tang said in the QQ group.

Source: Xinhua
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