The top housing authority is expected to draft a regulation to protect tenants’ rights and bring order to the nation’s largely unregulated rental market.
Some 160 million people, 21 percent of urbanites, are renters, with the majority being recent college graduates and migrant workers, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.
Many say they face problems dealing with unscrupulous landlords and real estate agents, especially in major cities, where there is a severe shortage of rental properties.
“After hearing the opinions and suggestions of various parties, we see this as the time to draft a regulation to make the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants clear,” Lu Kehua, vice-minister for the housing ministry, said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office on Feb 23.
The lack of industry regulation has led to such irregularities as unlicensed property agents and illegal subletting, often resulting in tenants being misled or rental agreements being unfairly terminated, and steep rent increases.
After moving seven times in the past eight years, Zhang Xinyu, a Beijing renter from Hunan province, said he is tired of dealing with agents and landlords.
“Most times, I haven’t wanted to move but was forced to by the agent or landlord,” the 31-year-old said. “Each time the one-year contact expired, they would raise the rent. They know it’s not easy to find another house and move all your belongings. Sometimes the rent increased by 10 percent, too high for me to afford.”
Yan Yuejin, research director at E-House China R & D Institute, said a new regulation would stabilize the housing rental market if it guarantees tenants’ rights when it comes to renewing contracts. “If tenants could get agreements that last at least three years, the market will be very stable,” he said.
The ministry has said it will encourage the growth of large-scale home rental enterprises through preferential policies like financial support and tax breaks. Real estate developers also will be encouraged to enter the rental industry, Lu said.
The authority will enlarge coverage of the government’s low-rent housing projects to cover migrant workers and new graduates, Lu said, but the government also will look into offering subsidies to people who qualify so they can enter the rental market.
Almost 90 percent of rentals are privately owned, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.