How to rent an apartment in Vietnam?

Dear Hadrien,
I recently found a job in Ho Chi Minh City! That means that I can finally change my shabby hotel room for a nice place of my own. I heard, however, that it is very complicated for a foreigner to rent an apartment in Vietnam. Is that really true?

You are right that land law is perhaps one of the most difficult fields in the Vietnamese legal system to understand. As an example, one of the basic principles under the constitution is that no one can own the land in Vietnam but the people of Vietnam as a whole and the State, representing the people, is responsible for the management and administration of the land. Rather than ownership titles, a system of “Land Use Rights” exists, which often leads to confusion among foreigners and Vietnamese alike as to the extent of such rights.

Your question, however, concerns the rental of an apartment and, fortunately, this is a lot less complicated. If you want to learn more about your rights and obligations as a potential lessee, the following three legal documents may come in handy: the Law on Residential Housing, the Regulations on Leasing Premises to Foreigners and Overseas Vietnamese, and the Civil Code of Vietnam. Let’s have a look at some of the basic rules that governs leasing an apartment.

According to the Law on Residential Housing, any foreign individual who is allowed to stay in Vietnam for a period of three or more consecutive months may lease a residential house (including apartments) in Vietnam. Assuming that you meet this requirement, you may now start searching for a nice place to live. You can either do so by yourself, or you can make use of one of the many agencies that can act as an intermediary.

The next step is negotiating and signing a lease agreement. Such an agreement must be a written document and according to the Law on Residential Housing, it must contain at least the following items: the names and addresses of the parties, a description of the characteristics of the residential house, the price and method of payment, the time of receipt of the residential house and the duration of the lease, the rights and obligations of the parties, any undertakings of the parties, the date of signing the agreement and the signatures of the parties.

Unless the agreed lease term is less than six months, the lease agreement must be notarized and the lessor must submit a copy of it to the People’s Committee of the commune where you future apartment is situated. As a foreign lessee, you must register with the public security office of the local ward or commune where you will be living. Landlords usually take care of that for their foreign tenants.


Like in many other countries, lessees in Vietnam enjoy, to a certain extent at least, protection of their rights. As long as you pay the rent in full and strictly on time as agreed, the landlord, for his part, must ensure you uninterrupted use of your apartment during the leas term. Furthermore, in case the ownership of the apartment changes, you will be entitled to continue leasing under the terms agreed with the previous lessor and if the landlord decides to unreasonably increase the rent, you will be entitled to terminate the contract. In other cases, for example, if you do not pay the rent for three consecutive months without a legitimate reason or if you sub-lease your apartment without the consent of the lessor, the latter may terminate the agreement. In any case, such a “unilateral” termination must be accompanied by at least a month’s prior written notice.

If things turn sour with your landlord, the law allows that, after an effort for conciliation, parties may go before a Vietnamese court to settle any dispute relating to the lease. Having a careful look at your rights and obligations as a lessee before entering into a lease agreement can often prevent trouble at a later stage. Personally speaking, I have found that working on maintaining a good relationship with your landlord by paying on time, being respectful to neighbors and, from time to time, bringing your landlord a little gift from your trips abroad is also a good way to avoid bad surprises.

Best of luck searching for your penthouse with a pool, and I’ll be waiting for my invitation to the housewarming party!

If you have any legal questions you want answered, send them to

Bio: A member of the Paris Bar, Hadrien Wolff has been practicing law in Vietnam for six years, currently as a partner of Audier & Partners. He specializes in banking and corporate law, regularly advising major foreign banks and assisting foreign investors in setting up joint venture companies with Vietnamese partners in sensitive sectors such as media, power and natural resources.

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6 thoughts on “How to rent an apartment in Vietnam?”

  1. Dear Hadrien,

    I have just read your very informative post entitled ‘How to rent an apartment in Vietnam’. It is of particular interest to me as I, along with my partner am currently renting an apartment in Da Nang without the help of an agent and have been having some contractual problems with our landlord.
    Unfortunately our landlord seems to think that he can change or break the contract whenever he feels like it without paying a penalty. He’s already tried once to break the contract early in order to charge more rent because he sold the apartment to his brother, but we resolved that problem in the end. Now that the duration of that contract is about to end, he wants us to sign another one (until January when my work contract ends) which has a clause saying that if he wants to ‘retrieve the apartment’ he just has to inform us one month before. He doesn’t think he has to pay a penalty though, yet if we want to leave before the end of the contract we will lose our deposit. Clearly this is unreasonable, but what we need to know is if it is actually allowed under Vietnamese law.
    What’s more, our landlord now expects us to pay rent 3 months in advance at the beginning of the contract and 2 months in advance from then on. Again this is obviously unreasonable given that the ‘retrieve the apartment’ clause means we’re are not guaranteed that we can stay here for the duration of the contract (until January).

    The biggest problem that we have during negotiations is that we don’t 100% know our rights as a foreign tenant. We would be very grateful for your advice in this matter and also would like to know where we can find documents mentioned in your post (the Law on Residential Housing, the Regulations on Leasing Premises to Foreigners and Overseas Vietnamese, and the Civil Code of Vietnam). We don’t want to move anywhere else as we really like the apartment and despite extensive searching have not found anything else that matches up.

    Thanks in advance,

    Kirsty & Jamie.

  2. What is a “vietnamese foreign house” What requirements are needed by the landlord to make the house legally able to rent to a foreigner? I know there has to be a contract, license to do business, and PCCC certificate at closure. What are the other items the owner must do to legally rent to a foreigner.Do you have a list that I can see.

  3. I am just about to sign a lease on a house. The problem is they want me to sign two contracts. 1 at the agreed price and 2 at a cheaper price, well half the price. I don’t understand what this is? Any advice would really help me. Thanks

    • It’s most likely the owner/landlord is misleading a third party on this rental agreement. I recommend finding another place because signing two leases for the same house at 2 different prices will cause problems in the future. You don’t want to rent from a dishonest person.


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