“According to provisions of law, corporates are not eligible to be headquartered in condominiums used for a residential purpose. However in certain cases, enterprises may base their head offices in apartment buildings with mixed-use purposes.“
The Law on Enterprise (2005) stipulates: “The head office of an enterprise is the place for contact and transaction of the enterprise; it must be located within the territory of Vietnam, have a definite address including house number, street name (or alley) or name of commune, ward, township, district, provincial town, provincial city, province or city under central authority; telephone and facsimile numbers and email address (if any).” Neither does the Enterprise Law nor do its guiding documents have regulations prohibiting corporates from having their headquarters in apartment buildings.
Currently, there are many opinions in which condominiums are believed to be designed and built solely for dwelling purpose. Therefore, it is considered inappropriate to the construction purpose and use when enterprises place their headquarters or offices in such buildings. However, PLF suggests examining the Regulation on management of condominium use promulgated with Decision No. 08/2008/QĐ-BXD by the Ministry of Construction on May 28th, 2008. It clearly states that “a multi-storey building with mixed-use purposes”, often referred to as a condominium with mixed-use purposes, has plenty of areas preferably used for various purposes aside from residing. In reality, it is quite common to see the ground level or other floors of an apartment building being utilized for supermarket, stores, head office, etc.
Under the direction of the Ministry of Construction stated in Official Dispatch No. 2544/BXD-QLN dated November 19th, 2009, owners of residential purpose-built condominiums being individuals and organizations are not permitted to alter such buildings’ designated use for setting up offices, stores, business or production facilities, etc. On the other hand, there are two options in regards of multi-storey buildings with mixed-use purposes as follows:
(1) In case where the areas utilized for offices, stores… are separable from the residential ones, they must be arranged and managed as similarly as business and service constructions;
(2) In case where such areas are inseparable, which leads to failed application of separate management provisions, particularly when the office area does not meet working conditions in compliance with Building Regulations and Standards, corrective measures must be timely taken. However, Official Dispatch No. 2544/BXD-QLN has yet to provide any guidelines on the implementation of such measures.
In summary, corporates seeking for condominiums to base their head office must consider whether the area where they plan to headquarter are eligible for other uses (e.g. to build offices, business and production facilities, etc.) apart from the relevant residential purpose. Due to the fact that enterprises are not permitted to place their head office in a condominium solely built for residing, it is essential to ask its investor or owner for crucial documents expressing the use(s) of the apartment area expectedly planned for the head office. Furthermore, enterprises must also note that business registration authorities may decline granting Business Registration Certification to those whose headquarters are based in apartment buildings.