ChinaAt 9 o’clock in the evening, Ms. Li Zhu’e limped up to the apartment on the 13th floor with a flashlight and went down to the bathroom on the first floor.
Ms. Li, 67, was involved in a serious car accident in 2019. After two operations, her left leg was partially amputated. There are still 12 nails on the lower back, which hinder walking. Her house is in an unfinished apartment building with no electricity, no running water, a non-working elevator, and no drainage.
Ms. Li’s daughter-in-law buys rechargeable solar lamps on the balcony to light up the apartment during the day. They cook with mini gas stoves and transfer drinking water from downstairs to the home two or three times a day.
Li’s apartment complex consists of 13 buildings and is “covered with floor mats” in Xi’an, the capital of central China’s Shaanxi province. Currently, more than 300 families live in four unfinished buildings.
“It’s very cold here at night. We sleep in full clothes,” Ms. Li said on May 3. “We don’t ask too much, just ask the government to help arrange water and electricity.”
Most clients started buying homes in 2013. Construction was halted in 2016 as investors faced financial difficulties. In 2018, the investor declared bankruptcy and the project has since been abandoned, leaving 1,200 owners unable to own the completed apartments.
Many tried to seek help from the government, including Li Ke, 33, who spent about 500,000 yuan ($75,600) on a 94-square-foot apartment after getting married. Now, his daughter is 6 years old.
“We go to the county government several times a month to petition,” Li said, “but we didn’t get a clear answer.”
At present, the project is believed to be still under construction and managed by courts, property managers and investors, but buyers are always in a state of anxiety.
“We decided to move in because the management announced in February that ‘the apartments may no longer belong to the buyer when the court makes a final ruling,'” Lee said.
The entrance to the apartment complex was blocked three times without prior notice, he said. Homebuyers broke the fence three times. “Then they just told us the fence was for construction purposes, but we didn’t believe it,” Lee said.
Some homeowners move in because they think it’s the only way to protect their property ownership, while many move in because they can’t afford to rent another place to live or borrow money to buy another house.
Chef Qu Pingrong, 55, will be out of work for three months in 2021 as restaurants have to close due to the pandemic. His wife was unemployed for 5 months. “The landlord raised the rent by nearly 24 percent to 2,100 yuan ($317) per month. We couldn’t pay it because we still owed 200,000 yuan ($30,240),” Qu said.
He chose to buy an apartment here because he could stand out the window and look out at the village where he grew up, where his parents still live. However, the dream has now turned into a nightmare.
A Tencent survey this year showed that more than 45 percent of mainland Chinese homebuyers faced unfinished apartments on time.
Wang Yucheng, a real estate lawyer based in Beijing, said the number of unfinished buildings that were suspended may increase in the short term due to the epidemic and the downturn in China’s turbulent real estate market.
Wang said moving into an unfinished building could help protect the interests of buyers in the event of a court forfeiture, but “it’s difficult to determine who is responsible in this case” in the event of an incident such as a fire.
However, “regardless of the cause of the event, investors must be indirectly liable,” Wang said.
Hong Han (according to South China Morning Post)