BEIJING (REUTERS) - China has reinforced a ban on selling property built by villages or farmers on rural land, state media reported on Monday, dashing hopes for a quick policy change after a top-level party meeting.
The Ministry of Land and Resources and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development have jointly issued an urgent circular ordering a halt to sales of "small-property-rights housing", which is built on rural land without going through state planning, the Economic Information Daily said.
Expectations that the government may relax controls on sales of such property rose after the party meeting this month pledged to allow rural construction land to be traded in a unified urban-rural market, enjoying the same rights and prices as state-owned land.
Chinese urban citizens have been prohibited from buying rural houses with limited property rights, with the government warning that such purchases do not enjoy legal protection. But sky-high property prices in cities have driven many urban dwellers to buy such low-cost homes.
"A buying frenzy has occurred in some places amid hopes that such 'small-property-rights housing' could be legalised," the newspaper said.
China's home prices have continued to set new records even after a four-year long official campaign to cool the market. The government is concerned that runaway prices could foment social unrest.
The paper quoted Xu Deming, a vice land minister, as saying that the party plenum's decision to allow some rural land to enter a unified urban-rural land market was "on the premise of conforming to the planning and is under usage supervision."
In China, land in urban areas is owned by the state and can be freely traded. Land in rural areas is owned by collectives -villages and townships - and contracted out to farmers.
Rural land can only be used for property or industrial development after being requisitioned by the state.