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Crackdown goes underground

By Yin Yeping (Global Times)

08:37, October 12, 2012

Two tenants live in a basement rented at a residential compound in Guangqumen, Dongcheng district. (Photo: Li Hao/GT)

Beijing's housing authority announced Thursday it would evict residents from around 800 basement apartments by the end of the year without offering tenants or landlords compensation, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Thursday. The Beijing Municipal Civil Defense Bureau said the plan aimed to ensure the safety of residents.

An official from the bureau, who declined to be named, said that the low standard of living at basement apartments poses significant health hazards to residents.

"Furthermore, people in such living arrangements cannot quickly evacuate in the event of an emergency," he said.

The official noted that once residents are evicted their former homes would be converted into storage spaces to be used by management of residential compounds.

"Residents of basement apartments whose lease does not expire this year will be allowed to stay until their contract expires and then be evicted," he added.

The crackdown will target people living in basement apartments measuring less than 10 square meters, according to the Beijing Youth Daily report.

An estimated 1 million people live in basement apartments in Beijing, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Most measure 10 square meters or less, with residents sharing common bathing, cooking and laundry facilities.

Few basement apartment dwellers were aware of the government's latest crackdown when contacted by the Global Times.

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