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Beijing clamps down on apartment group rentals

By Leeann Li   (Shanghai Daily)

08:10, July 19, 2013

BEIJING'S housing watchdog yesterday announced stricter rental rules to crack down on rampant leasing by groups.

The new rules state that each room in an apartment can accommodate only two tenants now with a minimum per-capita living space of at least 5 square meters.

Landlords are now banned from subdividing apartments into smaller rooms and renting them out, which would earn them more rental income. The kitchen, bathroom, balcony and basement cannot be leased for living purposes, according to the new rules.

If landlords or real estate agencies are found violating the law, they will be fined up to 30,000 yuan (US$4,887).

Group rentals are widespread in many big cities where housing costs are rising along with a growing migrant population. It is fraught with security, fire and health risks, but migrant workers and young college graduates find it cheaper living in groups. The issue is compounded by some landlords and housing agents who find it an easier way to make more money.

Recently, 25 people were found living in an 80-square-meter apartment in Beijing. Two bedrooms and a living room were stacked with bunk beds. Trash was dumped randomly and electric wires were entangled. Each tenant reportedly paid 800 yuan as rent per month. The real estate agency was earning 20,000 yuan per month but paid only 8,000 yuan to the apartment owner, Beijing Daily reported.

The city's per-capita income was 5,223 yuan last year, while a one-bed room in downtown costs 3,500 yuan per month as rents, said Lin Shaohua, section chief with Beijing Housing and Urban-Rural Development Commission. For every 1,450 units leased, 270 of them were used for group rentals.

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