Siem Reap Provincial Hall on Wednesday called on residents to take extra precautions when buying properties after finding apartment blocks and gated communities in five locations in Banteay Srei and Prasat Bakong districts had been built without proper authorisation.
Hen Puthy, the deputy director of administration at the provincial hall, said on Wednesday that the authorities had instructed the owners of the housing projects to temporarily stop all activities, including advertising and further construction, until the owners secure a permit.
“We required the owners of the housing project to request proper permits from the relevant institutions before starting construction and business operations,” he said.
A provincial hall report released on Tuesday named the housing projects as Moha Monti and Borei Angkor Land Banteay Srei – both located in Banteay Srei district’s Khnar Sanday commune – and Phum Than Samnong in Prasat Bakong district’s Bakong commune.
The other two unidentified projects are situated in Banteay Srei district’s Khnar Sanday and Khun Ream communes.
The provincial hall has also instructed the authorities at commune and district levels to strictly implement legal procedures, order the project owners under their jurisdiction to apply for permits and expedite legal processes and services for them.
The provincial administration said joint working groups will continue to inspect all development projects to make sure each project’s owners had received permission from the relevant institutions.
This, Puthy said, will prevent innocent residents from buying properties without valid titles and ensure that each construction project conforms to the provincial hall’s development and urbanisation plans.
“The five housing projects were not approved for development. Some apartment blocks have already been constructed while some were still pending. For the yet-to-be-developed projects, we have told the owners to put them on hold,” he said.
Siem Reap town governor Nuon Putheara said the development of the housing projects had started before he took office as town governor.
Putheara said in principle, each housing project in the province is required to be somewhat conservative as Siem Reap is an ancient town to be preserved.
“We want all constructions to be in line with what is laid out by the Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. Competent officials from the Cadastral department are working on this."
“Some developers constructed buildings without applying for proper permits, leaving the projects unlawful. For mega-projects involving apartment blocks and gated communities, the projects’ owners are obliged to secure permissions from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction first,” he said.
Puthy said many problems could arise with the buying and selling of such properties as the projects were unlawful.
And because of this, some owners would divide their land into small plots for sale, with some plots encroaching on state land while the whole housing project lacked proper infrastructure such as a sewage system.
“After the owners manage to sell their land, they get away with the proceeds, leaving innocent buyers in limbo. If such problems arise, we’d do our best to hold the owners accountable. We have been working hard to mitigate potential problems to the best of our abilities,” Puthy said.
The provincial administration called on project owners to comply with procedures and secure legal permits before any transactions take place and for residents to do background checks before investing in them.
“Residents should be cautious when buying or investing in housing projects and take extra caution when buying land that has been divided into small plots that have no valid titles,” said a statement by the provincial hall.
Suos Narin, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, told The Post on Tuesday that land in Siem Reap town mostly belongs to the Apsara Authority, which is tasked with managing the Angkor Archaeological Park.
He said no construction is allowed in the park without legal permits from the relevant ministries.
“The housing projects only sprung up early this year. Before that, no one dared to construct any building on the land because they believed the land was under the management of the Apsara Authority."
“But I have recently seen billboards advertising land and houses for sales, with some projects requiring customers to build houses according to the master plan determined by the company,” he said.