The Da Chiun Building (大群館), owned by the wife of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) New Taipei City mayoral candidate Hou You-yi (侯友宜) and used by Chinese Culture University as a student dorm, has contravened local zoning laws, the Taipei Department of Urban Development said yesterday.
The building is registered under a company called Yoyu (又昱), which is 96 percent owned by Hou’s wife, Jen Mei-ling (任美鈴), who is also listed as its manager.
After the legality of the building was questioned by Taipei city councilors, the department on June 20 asked the university to explain how the building is being used.
The university on Friday last week provided the department with a document saying that the building is a student dorm.
Officials conducted an inspection and confirmed that it was being used as a dorm, department Commissioner Lin Jou-min (林洲民) said.
Student dorms are categorized as boarding houses, but the land on which the building sits is a Type 2 residential area, which does not allow the establishment of a boarding house under the Taipei City Self-Government Ordinance for Land Use Zoning Control (台北市土地使用分區管制自治條例), he said.
The building’s owner reported it as “congregate housing” when applying for a building use permit in 1997, but the city government found that it was being used as a dorm during an inspection after a city councilor first questioned its usage in 2012, Lin said.
Management was at the time asked to conform to fire safety standards for dorms, he said.
The department will send an administrative guidance letter to the owner and users of the building asking them to rectify the problem within two months, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said, adding that the city government would stress that the rights of its student residents be protected.
The university yesterday issued a statement saying that it still has at least four years left on the lease for the building, with a contract notarized by a court that complies with government regulations.
It is regrettable that the city government’s stance on the issue has been inconsistent, the university said.
Hou’s election campaign office said that Yoyu would terminate the contract with the university, but questioned whether the city government has been contradictory and inconsistent because elections are drawing near.
While the university and a city councilor cited Ministry of Education standards for higher education evaluation and accreditation when claiming that the building should be considered an “educational facility,” such standards do not take precedence over local regulations, Lin said.
“The department never approved the building’s use as a Chinese Culture University student dorm, so there is no problem with consistency,” Lin said, adding that the owner had asked if the building could be rented to students, to which the answer was “yes.”
The building meeting safety standards for dorms does not make it legal in terms of zoning, he said.
However, the department admits its failure to uncover the illegal land use for years, Lin said, adding that Ko has instructed it to make improvements immediately.
Additional reporting by Wu Po-hsuan and Lai Hsiao-tung
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