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What if the house you rent is not supposed to receive foreigners? Will I get into trouble? - Answers for Hanoi

Beautiful Tam Coc
What if the house you rent is not supposed to receive foreigners? Will I get into trou...
lastlyvn posted February 23rd, 2012 at 10:40 pm to Other.
Viewed 3945 times. Answered 29 times.

I rent a room recently from another foreigner who rents the whole house and sub-let a room to me. However, I suspect that the house is not supposed to receive foreigners. I heard from some other expats that all houses registered to receive foreigners should have a fire extinguisher on each floor. And also, the landlord needs to register the tenants with the police. None of these has been followed in my house.

Will I get into trouble because of staying in a house that is not supposed to be receiving foreigners? I want to have things done properly to stay out of trouble.

Answers (jump to newest answer)

no photo available
February 23rd, 2012 at 11:18 pm


Hopefully you do not but yes you can, big trouble. Move if you can.


no photo available
February 23rd, 2012 at 11:34 pm
Good Answer lastlyvn marked this as a good answer

Hope these help.

I was unaware foreigners had such trouble with fire round these parts - or maybe the nice government people just want to ensure us foreigners get the very best in life. Or maybe that rule's complete bogata, I'm not sure.

Sounds like a job fooooooooor... T-T-TBBle!

Beautiful Tam Coc
February 24th, 2012 at 11:31 am

How can I know whether a house has been registered to rent to foreigners? Do the landlord have any paper to prove it?

February 24th, 2012 at 11:40 am

Did you ever have to fill out of form, with a photocopy of your passport, for your landlord to bring to the police? If not, she has not been registered to rent to foreigners.

It's all shady. You should leave. Big trouble. Like cancelled visa and deportation big. Everybody has to be registered with the police every night wherever they are sleeping.

Cooking at home
February 24th, 2012 at 11:41 am

It's only a problem if the tenants are more than loud and make the neighbors feel like you are more than imposing on them and only if the landlords to take care of their local relationships with the local authorities. Rarely is it actually enforced outside of the landlords not liking the tenants and then they bring this fact up later to get you out. It's more often than not a cop out and letting them save some face and the ability to say this is Vietnam you don't understand.

Cooking at home
February 24th, 2012 at 11:43 am

What nick is referring to is just the registration for certain pele to inhabit the house even Vietnamese are supposed to do that if there for longer than 12 days I believe.

The form you fill out is has nothing to do with the house actually being registered for foreigners to live there.

February 24th, 2012 at 11:51 am

I respectfully disagree Longh.

Every neighborhood has a "snitch" that reports to the local People's Committee and all local gossip, happenings and movements are known by the authorities.

I've lived in three different places here. The first was a living arrangement much like the OP, but we had to turn in forms and passport copies every 6 months or so to stay right.

In the second place, we got a visit from the police within two days of moving in and my wife went and filled the same kind of form at the local cop shop on my behalf.

When we moved here, same story, it took 48 hours for the police to know I was living here, my wife and landlord went off for some tea, the form was filled out and the passport photocopied.

You and I once went on a motorbike trip to Yen Bai and took shelter in a Nga Nghi/Bia Hoi on a dark and stormy night. The next morning at breakfast, you yourself Longh, spent 45 minutes talking to the local constable (who had been notified of our presence) at our breakfast table, showing him our passports and explaining why we were there.

Due to your excellent Vietnamese language skills and the fact that he enjoyed my Marlboro's, we had a lovely time, signed some book, laughed a bit, and he was on his way.

They just want to know where you are. Every night.

February 24th, 2012 at 11:54 am

The OP said they've never been registered with the police.

I would agree that the house registration is between the landlord, and her relationship with the local police. The OP is saying that they are not registered themselves with the police. Distinction.

February 24th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

@ the OP

In regards to Nick and Longh's back and forth, I have heard of a few instances where the police have forced the foreigners out of the house. It is usually because of 1) a problem the foreigner caused, 2) something the policeman got in trouble for in the past, or 3) a problem/personal feud that exists between the police and the landlord.

While in all these cases the foreigner had to leave, sometimes immediately, or proper paperwork needed to be filed/small fine needed to be paid, no one I know has been deported or had their visa cancelled over this issue. I would say that is technically possible but highly unlikely.

I have heard the fire extinguisher rule as well, but honestly, that might be the least of your worries right now...

The landlord may sh*t a brick if he doesn't know that you living there and finds out. In any case, it sounds like you could find a better place to live and I would recommend looking around especially if you want everything to be on the up and up. The place you find will likely cost more and/or be smaller than where you are now, but it sounds like that is what you need.

Beautiful Tam Coc
February 24th, 2012 at 1:35 pm

In fact I am still living in my old house. The problem is, the one who sub-let the room to me(a Singaporean) at my old house did not ask me for any registration either. I've been living there for almost 3 months. That house I'm sure is registered to receive foreigners.

If I move out because of this reason, will I be able to get back the deposit and the advanced rent I paid.

no photo available
February 24th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Why don't you ask the person who you subletted from? Would be quicker.

February 24th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

@lastly; giayluathom is right, that is a question that only the landlord is going to be able to answer. If you haven't noticed already, the law is pretty gray in these areas and almost never on your side.

Beautiful Tam Coc
February 24th, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I asked the foreigner who sub-let the room to me. She said that the house was registered and she had submitted her passport and visa information to the landlord. However, the other girl who also shared the house said she had never been requested of any passport information. Therefore I'm suspecting that the house is not registered. Or the landlord just registered the one who's renting the house?

That's the reason I tried to look for fire extinguishers in the house. It is one of the requirements that the landlord has to fulfil when she registers the house. Not that I'm afraid of fire, but the existence of the fire extinguisher is sort of an indicator. I'm not sure whether I'm right on that.

February 25th, 2012 at 5:43 am
Good Answer lastlyvn marked this as a good answer

Wow. This has been helpful. I have been living in Hanoi for 6 years. I have rented houses and apartments. For a period of 3 years I rented a house and rented out rooms to other foreigners to help pay my rent. Some of them registered with police and some of them didn't. What you need to worry about is if you are working legally or not. If you are working legally, then you need to provide a lease agreement or signed paperwork to your employer that states that you are living legitimately in Hanoi. This is for tax purposes. If you provide said paperwork or lease agreement, you will be taxed at a lower rate. If you do not, you will be taxed at 20% of your total earnings. If this is not an issue for you, then you should be fine. As long as you don't blatantly bring Vietnamese women into your house at all hours of the night, your neighbors won't give a shit what you are doing, and the police can't be bothered. As far as fire extinguishers, I imagine you are living in the same kind of place most of us live in, a cement box with segmented rooms. What is going to burn? Relax, Nobody is going to come and drag you out of your house in the middle of the night and deport you for renting a room. I am surprised that people in this thread are even suggesting that is a possibility. Be respectful and don't bring a lot of attention to yourself and you should be just fine.

Beautiful Tam Coc
February 25th, 2012 at 9:42 am

Thanks for the previous responses. Some of you have been providing very helpful advice and information.

My problem now is that even if I find a new house, how can I be sure that the house is registered? Even if the landlord says so, how can I be sure? Is there any paper to prove that? Even if the landlord asks for the passport and visa information, there's no guarantee that he/she does file it. So is there also some paper to show that he/she does file my information at the police?

Thanks for assuring me that I may not have trouble if I don't trouble to the neighbourhood which I shall not be doing. I'm just trying to playing it safe.

Welcome to reply if you think you can help. Thanks!

February 26th, 2012 at 3:26 am
Good Answer lastlyvn marked this as a good answer

In my experience, the level of drama you will encounter as a foreigner living in a non foreigner-approved residence depends on the zeal (or lack thereof) of your local People's Committee, or whatever the relevant local law enforcement body happens to be.

I've lived in three different areas in Hanoi; each time in premises that, as a foreigner and from a legal perspective, I shouldn't have been living in. The authorities at the first place required bribes, and then they turned a blind eye. The authorities governing the second place I lived in ignored me completely, but would not provide any assistance when it came to registering my residence whatsoever (yes, tea and cigarettes money was offered - by locals, in the "right way" - and refused), which made applying for long-term visas impossible. The authorities who have jurisdiction over the place I'm in currently have been dealt with by our landlord. I don't know what kind of deal's been struck - all I know is it's been painless for me thus far.

So it really does depend on the area you're moving into - there isn't a simple answer to this question, unfortunately.

no photo available
February 27th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Houses which have been registered: have to have a register book with your name, the police stamp there. Ask your landlord to see that or even the photo of your paper is fine. The Landlord keep that.
Note: no longer than 24 hour they have to register after you move (if you move after 11pm which is imposible) or they have to register in the same day. So, make sure you have your paper like I told before you move, easy. If you have any question. Ask me. I'm Vietnamese, I know most thing here.

Beautiful Tam Coc
February 27th, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Thanks for the previous responses. Most of you have been providing very helpful advice and information.

My problem now is that even if I find a new house, how can I be sure that the house is registered? Even if the landlord says so, how can I be sure? Is there any paper to prove that? Even if the landlord asks for the passport and visa information, there's no guarantee that he/she does file it. So is there also some paper to show that he/she does file my information at the police?

Thanks for assuring me that I may not have trouble if I don't trouble to the neighbourhood which I shall not be doing. I'm just trying to playing it safe.

Welcome to reply if you think you can help. Thanks!

Beautiful Tam Coc
February 27th, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Thanks thebeehanoi, your information is what I need.

Yesterday I've given my passport and visa information to the one who sub-let the room to me. She said she'll ask the landlady to register for me. However, she never mentions any form. I'll follow-up on this and ask to see the register book.

On the other hand, I have started to look for new house. When I ask the owner of the house I'm seeing whether the house has been registered, he doesn't give me a direct answer. Is it very common for Vietnamese house-owners to rent their houses to foregners without registering? Then they are putting their tenants to risk.

February 27th, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I don't know what your budget is, but if you're talking about subletting an individual room, I'm guessing it's not high. Considering this, I think you need to accept the fact that cheap rental places tend not to be registered to allow foreign tenants.

The good news is that it's not especially "risky" for foreigners to live in places that aren't registered to house them. As others have said above, if you are a good neighbour, you're very, very unlikely to run into problems with the authorities because you're a foreigner living in a "non-foreigner approved" residence.

Relax; I don't think this is something you need to be greatly worried about. Let your landlord take care of it. It's their responsibility, not yours.

no photo available
February 29th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

This is sensitive situation. Sorry guy, I can't answer you directly here, but if you contact me via my, I'll help you to avoid your problems. (my nickname on Yahoo also). Take care.

October 2012
March 6th, 2012 at 8:58 pm

As mentioned in one of the linked threads, the law on renting houses and flats to foreigners is 56/CP from 1995. Note that this doesn't seem to apply to renting individual rooms, from what I can see.

The relevant part is Article 3, point 4, regarding security and order.

72/2009/ND-CP is the procedure for getting a certificate of security and order. Article 5, paragraph 1, point c states you need a certificate of fire safety or a record of a fire safety inspection. At first glance (in English) this one _does_ appear to apply to a rented room.

Consider this the water. If you want to know more, two helpful documents might be 27/2001/QH10 (Law on Fire Prevention and Fighting) and its implementation regulation, 35/2003/ND-CP.

However, at first glance, they devolve authority down to local government bodies, or the local Cong An office, as far as what's acceptable fire safety.

On an experiential note, I'm currently renting a single room. I'm not the only foreigner here, and I wasn't the first to arrive. I've never filled in a form, but my landlord has taken photocopies of my passport to the police a couple of times (as I extended my original plans).

I keep forgetting to read the business plaques on the front of the house, but I suspect I'm actually in a house which has "renting rooms to foreigners" as one of its registered businesses.

no photo available
March 6th, 2012 at 9:03 pm

If you re living there legally, you don't have to fill in any form, but you have to sign in the bottom of that paper, sure.

October 2012
March 6th, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I haven't signed anything here. (Including a rental contract, so I'm probably hanging bottom-out in the wind in that respect, anyway.)

March 7th, 2012 at 2:38 am

"This is sensitive situation."

No, it's not. Not at all. Let's not overcomplicate things. It's actually a very simple situation. If you're living in a place that isn't registered to house foreigners, you're 99.9% certain not to attract attention from the local People's Committee if you behave yourself. If you're in an apartment block, you may need to go and curry favour with the block "boss" who reports to the People's Committee. Eyes everywhere, y'know. Anyway, we had to do this at the first place we lived in on the first day. It involved going to the apartment of the block boss and her husband (they happened to be our neighbours), drinking tea and making small talk for 20 minutes. When they decided they liked the cut of our jibs, all was well. I smiled a lot and said little.

We were never bothered by the authorities at that place, but when we needed residence registration papers for visas and the like, bribes were required.

The second place we couldn't get registration papers for love nor money.

We don't need residence papers in the place we're in now, so all is well. As I said above, the landlords have dealt with the authorities. Apparently they've spun some story about how we're their relatives from Australia and we're living in their place for free. Apparently this is quite a common explanation given as to why a foreigner might be living in a place and not paying rent (which would otherwise be taxed).

The police must be astounded by the number of foreign relatives living in locals' houses for nothing. The Vietnamese are such generous people!

March 7th, 2012 at 2:46 am

I should have mentioned that, in the second place, we were trying to get residence registration papers so that I could get a spousal visa waiver in Hanoi, and a residence registration paper is required for this.

Now we have solved that issue by getting long visas from my the provincial capital of my wife's province, and residence registration papers are not required.

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
October 13th, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Recently my landlord got a visit by some authorities , they were here to re register her for renting to foreigners. They asked her for 10 million vnd , could it be so much . Or was it cause she has a car in the Garage. they came back next day . They got 5 million from her , then a few days later , needed our passports to re-registerus. Then she had to pay another 5 million more . Corruption you gotta love it !

no photo available
October 13th, 2013 at 11:57 pm


Are you making a statement or asking a question?

You know how much a car costs here. She's doing great. She forgot to share the benefit, that's all. None of those payments were a piss in the bucket compared to what she really probably legally owes, so no harm done. Obviously crying poor to you so you feel guilty enough to help her out, don't. A sympathetic 'oh that's terrible' will suffice. It's covered your rent already.


October 14th, 2013 at 1:22 pm

A combination Question and statement. You are right she did cry and almost asked for money , Sometimes she ask's me to pay my rent early , She say's she has no money . How can she own a car and have no money?

She did ask me to ask a Girl some questions for IELTS for free the other day . I should say "oh what a Pity"

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