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Customs officer fights home being sold

A CUSTOMS officer has asked a court to stop the auction of the apartment he lives in, saying he and his wife would be homeless if the sale went ahead.

Chen Xing said he obtained an apartment on Guiping Road in 1998 from the Customs as part of its welfare program and had lived in it ever since. The owner of the property was Shanghai Golden Key Real Estate Development Company, which used to be a company under the Shanghai Customs.

He said the company offered a batch of apartments free to the Customs in 1998 and the Customs allocated the apartments to officers.

But judges at Zhabei District People's Court ruled in February 2007 that the apartment should be auctioned to pay a debt Golden Key owed to Shanghai Xinqi Investment Co Ltd.

Chen rejected the ruling and filed a lawsuit to the court, asking that the auction be halted.

The Customs stopped the welfare apartment policy following a central government decision and he had never bought his own real estate.

"If the apartment is auctioned, my wife and I, as innocent residents, will have nowhere to live," Chen told the court.

Xinqi said the apartment belonged to Golden Key, not the Customs.

Judges aren't allowed to force those who own only one apartment to sell the real estate to pay debts, according to the law. But the law doesn't stipulate how to protect people like Chen, who lives in an apartment where the real owner faces a debt, judges said.

The court said they would try to find a reasonable solution to solve the dispute because it was related to the basic living rights of a citizen.


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