The housing and urban-rural development authority of Sihui, Guangdong province has ordered a property owner to stop renovations and rectify any damage after it was reported he was knocking down walls to combine all 42 apartments he had purchased to build an entertainment venue in a housing estate.
A statement released on Tuesday by the city's bureau of housing and urban-rural development said inspections were launched after locals complained that the property owner, surnamed Yao, had started to integrate all the apartments on the second floor of a commercial building without obtaining a construction permit.
The residents claimed cracks had appeared on multiple walls above the second floor, the statement said.
On-site inspection showed Yao had used large machines to demolish partition walls before obtaining a construction permit, with about 700 square meters of walls having been bulldozed.
Experts from Tongji Architects, which designed the building, said a preliminary inspection showed no structural safety problems.
The bureau promised to launch a further comprehensive inspection and evaluation of the apartment building with experts from the Guangdong Provincial Academy of Building Research, to effectively safeguard people's lives and property.
Officials and experts explained the inspection results to local residents and answered their concerns on-site on Tuesday, the bureau said.
Yao had purchased the 42 apartments with a total floor space of 1,842 square meters, and began renovations on May 29.
He Zhijian, a property manager of the housing estate, said that when Yao was asked to show his construction permit, he replied that the application was in process and would soon be approved by relevant departments.
A local property owner surnamed Guan said more than 300 households live in the 11-story building.
Many residents are very concerned about the safety of the building because there are only a few pillars to support it after the walls have been demolished, he said.