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January 20, 2011

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Law must address hazards in old homes

OLD homes in poor repair contain many potential hazards and require specific legislation to safeguard residents, local lawmakers said yesterday.

The proposal by 19 deputies to the Shanghai People's Congress said the city has no specific laws to regulate the inspection and repair of its many old houses.

"We have no regular checks and repairs at present," said Li Ranhua, director of the Huangpu District Development and Reform Commission and one of the 19 deputies.

"As there's no regular checking system, it's often impossible to discover problems in time. If accidents happened due to those safety issues, it would be too late to save lives and property," Li told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

The proposal comes after a case in which more than 200 residents had to be rehoused as their 100-year-old home at the Bund was suffering serious subsidence. It had received little maintenance for much of its history and recently giant cracks left inhabitants exposed to the elements.

Though the Bund building is now undergoing renovation, other old buildings and their residents are not so lucky.

In downtown Huangpu District alone, more than 6,200 buildings built before 1949 are in a similar condition. And if 40-year-old buildings are added, nearly one-third of the district's buildings have safety problems, according to the proposal.

"The city must set up a fund to guarantee the safety of these old buildings," said Li.


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