How to Legally Reclaim Your House?

It is common practice for people to lease or allow friends or acquaintances to use their residential property such as houses and condominiums without creating any written contract or agreement prior to occupancy.

Although unforeseen at the time of occupancy, issue may arise where the occupant, upon request refuses to vacate the premises.

Generally speaking owner typically believe they have a unilateral right or option to reclaim the house at any time, or even to evict the occupant.

This above situation is not the case however. Owners should be cautioned as this type of action may attract criminal liability which is defined as: the crime of “Infringement of another’s residence”.

Therefore, owners need to be thoroughly familiar with the rules concerning reclaiming their residential property while remaining in compliance with the law.

Below we summarize key points to consider.

The owner’s right to reclaim residential property

The Law on Handling of Administrative Violations provides in Article 2.9:

A place of residence is a home, facility or another house used by a citizen for his/her residence. Places of residence may be owned by citizens, or leased  or allowed to be used by citizens for residence”.

This means that although the residence is legally owned by A, if A lends or allows B to use such house, it becomes the ‘place of residence’ of B.

Article 158 of the 2015 Criminal Code (amended in 2017) further provides:

Article 158. Infringement of another’s residential place

  • A person who commits any of the following acts infringing another’s residential place shall be subjected to a penalty of up to 02 years’ community sentence or 03 – 24 months’ imprisonment:
  • Illegally searching another’s residential place;
  • Illegally evicting another from his/her residential place;
  • Illegally occupying another’s residential place or illegally obstructing another who is legally residing in or managing his residential place from entering his residential place;
  • Invading another’s residential place.

Additionally, the owner can be subjected to criminal liability for committing the crime of “Deliberately destroying or causing damage to property” if his act damages the property of the occupant during reclamation of the residence.

The owner ultimately has an absolute right to reclaim the residence under their lawful ownership. However, reclaiming the residence must comply with the law. If the owner commits any of the above acts, they may be subject to criminal liability.

How does the owner legally reclaim his or her house?

Executing a written lease agreement or an agreement to allow use of the residence

To minimize risks, a written agreement should be made. The agreement should specify the following:

terms of lending or allowing use of the house

the rights and obligations of each party, and

especially the events or circumstances that will permit the owner to reclaim the residence.

If the owner has already leased or allowed use of the residence without any written agreement

Step 1: Sending a notice requesting the occupant to return the residence within a set period of time.

Article 499 of the 2015 Civil Code provides:

Article 499. Rights of lenders

To reclaim the property immediately after the borrower achieves the objective of the borrowing in the absence of an agreement on the borrowing terms; if the lender has an urgent and unexpected need to use the borrowed property, the lender may reclaim the property even if the borrower has not yet achieved his objective, but shall give the borrower reasonable advance notice thereof.

To reclaim the property when the borrower uses the property for an improper purpose, at variance with the utility or method already agreed upon or when the borrower sub-lends the property without the consent of the lender.”

Therefore, the owner must notify the occupant in writing, in advance, regarding their request to return the house within ‘a reasonable period’.

The prevailing law does not define what ‘reasonable period’ is.

The period of time will depend on the judgment of the competent settlement authority.The aforesaid period can likely be interpreted as ‘a reasonable period’ for the occupant to find a new residence.

Step 2: Requesting involvement of the competent authority

When the period stated in the advance notice expires but the borrower/housing occupant does not return the house, the owner can consider either of the following two options:

Option 1

Reporting the case to the People’s Committee at the commune-level where the residence is located and requesting such authority to:

  • force the occupant to stop their violation; and
  • impose administrative penalties on the occupant for ‘illegally occupying another’s property’.

During handling of administrative violations, if there is any indication that a crime has been             committed, the People’s Committee shall transfer the case file to the competent criminal agencies for resolution as a criminal proceeding.

Option 2

Filing a lawsuit against the occupant with the People’s Court at the district-level where the residence is located in order to reclaim the house. The Court shall handle the lawsuit as a civil proceeding.

Important advice to follow during the process of reclaiming the residence

To avoid criminal liability or claim for compensation, the owner must not perform, or authorize or hire others to perform, the following acts while reclaiming the residence:

Intimidate, put pressure, or use or threaten to use violent force against the occupant to leave the house or to obstruct their daily life;

Demolish or move furniture or assets within the house.

This article contains legal knowledge and professional terms, readers who are interested in the provisions of reclaiming the house or dispute resolution over lending property under the Vietnamese laws, please contact our Trial Lawyers at