Accommodation in China: scams you should look out for

Hi,

Committing to renting or buying accommodation when you’re new to or have not moved to China just yet is always a stressful endeavour. Would you like to help us in putting together a handbook of what to look out for when house hunting in China?

What are the most common scams in China?

What are the red flags to look out for when scanning through adverts?

Is there a list of registered or accredited landlords or real estate agencies in China?

What authorities should be sought should one come across an accommodation scam?

Please share your experience,

Bhavna

In regards to house and apartment hunting. I haven't experienced much in the way of scams. I can only relate my own personal experiences.

What are the most common scams in China?
I once rented an apartment in downtown Louhu (Shenzhen) where the landlord expected me to repair and replace all the appliances and furnishings when they broke. At the time, I didn't think anything of it. However, once I moved in, I noticed that nothing worked. The A/C was 20 years old, as was the stove, hot water heater, television, sofa, and flooring. We must have spent 6000 RMB before we left, and he still wanted to keep our deposit and the last months rent. That goofy guy.

What are the red flags to look out for when scanning through adverts?
We only look through advertisements to get an understanding of local pricing and what is available. Then we go to the local housing agency in person and have them show us around face to face. In China it is always better to deal with things face to face and in person.

Is there a list of registered or accredited landlords or real estate agencies in China?
No, China doesn't have anything like this for normal rentals. Agents, as far as I know, are not subject to any kind of accreditation. However, you do need to have a document from the Chinese government if you own a house and want to rent it out.

What authorities should be sought should one come across an accommodation scam?
The local police.

BUYING???    WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU WANT TO BUY?  EVEN the Chinese do not "OWN" anything- especially in the cities-- UNLESS THE HOUSE BOOK has been handed down GENERATIONS. IN SOME areas of EVERY CITY you can only LEASE for max 20 years-- and if the Gov. does not want the land back-- then they MAY extend that lease.
ALSO-- no foreigner ever came to China and STAYED in the SAME SPOT. Everyone moves because unless you live here- you have no idea WHERE YOU SHOULD BE!
FURTHER--  ONLY buy from a CERTIFIED // REGISTERED agent and MAKE SURE they have the HOUSE BOOK and MAKE SURE THAT ANY MODIFICATIONS on that property WERE APPROVED BY THE CITY-- because most are illegal..
NEVER BUY FROM THE OWNER because 99 times out of a 100 you will be scammed in some way....
BUT DO NOT BUY ANYWAY---   RENTING is MUCH MUCH SMARTER--    I have a 3 room one bed New Apartment with washing machine and it is 1980 a month RMB!!!  YES- it is small but it has a washing machine and air con- etc......
RENT- do not buy

I have lived in China for 17 years and would never buy an apartment or house here. Renting is the only way to go. As for scams, the owners will try and keep the deposits or portions of them. Even though you can have a cleaning lady come and clean the place, the owner will charge you for the place to be cleaned or any little thing they can think of.

The local agents are not accredited but I have not come across any scams in their regards. Be advised that rent in China can go anywhere from very cheap to ludicrous prices depending on where you are in China. Always check the local adverts to get an idea of the price and don't be afraid to bargain.

What authorities should be sought should one come across an accommodation scam? As stated in an earlier post, the local police but be advised they will side with the owner 99% of the time because they are Chinese regardless if you are correct.

GREAT ADVICE from "CHEWDOG" .    Listen to it!!!   AND DO NOT FORGET that you can BUY any type of property here in China--  BUT YOU DO NOT OWN IT!  YOU only LEASE IT!  THE GOVERNMENT OWNS all PROPERTY in China!  EVEN CHINESE DO NOT ""OWN"" property!

OK. I have to chime in.

I bought a house in Nanshan, which is a suburb of Shenzhen in 2004. I paid 40,000 USD for it. Today it is worth 9,000,000,000 USD! I went to the bank, took out a second mortgage on it, and invested it into a coal mine. Now, I live off the interest from my investment. I will not go as far as to say that my experience is typical, but it is my experience.

I was able to buy because I am married to a Chinese person, and my entire family is Chinese. If I had no family, I would not advise purchasing property in China.

VANNROX ----- YES-- "SOME PEOPLE" have made money-- but that REAL ESTATE BUBBLE is about to burst... so be careful! And I think you meant to say you invested in a "GOLD" mine---  not a COAL MINE!    AND YOU HAVE TOO MANY ZEROS in your house value price. THAT IS 9 "BILLION" USD you put in your comment. NO PALACE in the world is worth 9 BILLION!   SORRY DUDE-- I am a teacher--- what do you expect!! ha . ha ! :D

Hello

Here is my advices:

1 Lots of ad pics are fake, currently there is no serious real estate law to regulate real estate ads, so, before you make an appointment to see the property , ask the agent if the pics are real.

2 when you get to the point to sign a rental agreement , make sure to get a copy of proof of the owership of the property.

3 Find a reliable agency to handle your property hunting , check out their company reputation online .

you added some extra 00 on your now price  :P

VANNROX :

What are the most common scams in China?
I once rented an apartment in downtown Louhu (Shenzhen) where the landlord expected me to repair and replace all the appliances and furnishings when they broke. At the time, I didn't think anything of it. However, once I moved in, I noticed that nothing worked. The A/C was 20 years old, as was the stove, hot water heater, television, sofa, and flooring. We must have spent 6000 RMB before we left, and he still wanted to keep our deposit and the last months rent. That goofy guy.

Not sure I'd use the word 'goofy' to describe this kind of guy. It's normal in China to be expected to repair anything that gets damaged but it's not normal to repair things that aren't working when you move in! But Chinese are Chinese and will often try to get you to just fix up their house. Everything should be in working order when you move in and if it's not then they should fix it. Why in the world did he still want your deposit?

Your experience would definitely come under the category 'scam'.

VANNROX :

What are the red flags to look out for when scanning through adverts?
We only look through advertisements to get an understanding of local pricing and what is available. Then we go to the local housing agency in person and have them show us around face to face. In China it is always better to deal with things face to face and in person.

Red flags? Watch out for landlords of Estate agents, you'll pretty much always have problems with those in China.
We just moved into a place in Kunming and the place we chose had a few issues such as a rattling door, loose tap in the kitchen sink etc which the estate agent promised to fix before we moved in. When we came to view again after a couple of days she said the door could not be fixed, even though it clearly just needed some of that pipe padding sticking on the frame to stop it rattling and the tap had been tightened but was still kind of loose.
We had been wanting to try the gas burners to make sure they were ok but still the gas fee had not been paid so we still couldn't test that. So I asked specifically if it we found it wasn't working would it be replaced or fixed and she promised it would. She was all very nice since we still hadn't paid the rent and signed the contract yet.
Of course later on we found that while the gas burners basically worked they were very poor and a no gas alarm kept ringing after a minute of use or the burners were unable to light. Basically unusable. Suffice to say she was not happy to hear about this and it took about a month to finally get it replaced..

VANNROX :

What authorities should be sought should one come across an accommodation scam?
The local police.

Lol, good luck with that. We tried to even sue a landlord who tried to get us to fix up her house, just like your experience and the lawyer said to just forget about it because there's nothing much you can do about much of anything like this in China.

krissttovvv :

GREAT ADVICE from "CHEWDOG" .    Listen to it!!!   AND DO NOT FORGET that you can BUY any type of property here in China--  BUT YOU DO NOT OWN IT!  YOU only LEASE IT!  THE GOVERNMENT OWNS all PROPERTY in China!  EVEN CHINESE DO NOT ""OWN"" property!

You need to be quiet now krissttovvv, like most Westerners, you haven't a clue what you are talking about when referring to Chinese Law, prefering to dive into unsubstantiated myths and lore, or quoting laws that preceded current laws, and often by many decades.

I OWN a Law Firm, situated in the 3rd floor that I own of a commercial building (the floor, not the building). I have owned a house for 15 years, I owned 2, but I sold the other one 4 years ago. I did own 3 shops as well, but sold 2 of those recently and now have just the one.

My point is, I not only know the laws, I have been dealing with them personally for the last 15 years.

It is NOT true that the Government owns the land, you own your dwelling, and you own your land (You have 2 titles, one for each), and the Government CAN NOT remove you from it, nor take it from you unless it is a project of reasonable magnitude, such as a highway or railway coming through, fairly standard for most countries in the world. There are other factors though, such as if your dwelling is rented out, the Government CAN NOT evict the tenant before the end of the rental agreement. This has caused some major headaches with some infrastructure projects, that have been in the news.

BUT, in China at least you get compensated for full market value and more for moving and other costs, often rent free accommodation for up to 2 years, unlike Australia, my Nationality, where the Government say wants to widen a road, you get 'X' amount of days to leave or the police will remove you, and you get a Government valuer to appraise your home, and end up getting around 70% to 80% of actual market value, and no compensation for moving and associated costs.

Renting in China is fine, make sure you have a standardized rental contract (NEVER rent without one), take note of all damages to the apartment with a signature on that from the Landlord or Agent, and condition of white goods, and as mentioned above, good luck getting your deposit back! Expect to lose all or most of your deposit, easier to get blood from a stone than money back from a Chinese Landlord's, especially if it's lady, just the way it is.

Chewdog :

I have lived in China for 17 years and would never buy an apartment or house here. Renting is the only way to go.

VANNROX :

I was able to buy because I am married to a Chinese person, and my entire family is Chinese. If I had no family, I would not advise purchasing property in China.

I bought 2 houses (apartments) single male, Australian and not a single problem whatsoever. I have no idea how these stories start.

I have no idea why people would advise against buying property in China, it is intrinsically no different at all to any other country. As i said above, have bought and sold plenty of properties, new and old. The only issue I have had recently is my passport doesn't fit into the new Chinese ID machines in the Government Affairs offices, and it's been a pain in the ass to get the info into the computers manually.

I bought my house and land in 2005, 2,200 per square meter, now about 8 to 9,000 I think, The other one cost me 400,000 rmb in 2006, I sold that 4 years ago for a million.


Hasen :

We tried to even sue a landlord who tried to get us to fix up her house, just like your experience and the lawyer said to just forget about it because there's nothing much you can do about much of anything like this in China.

Wrong. That you came across a lazy Lawyer, or a lazy Policeman (common), does not maketh the law in China.

Sadly there are a lot of Law Firms who practice in relationships (Guanxi) rather than actual law. Sorry for your experience, it's not uncommon, shop around.

PS: On the other flip of the coin, it is very much our experience that a Westerner actually willing to pay for law services is like rocking horse poo.


Chewdog :

The local agents are not accredited but I have not come across any scams in their regards.

As with all businesses, a substantial Government licence fee is paid for, and put at risk. I'll check later, and different cities have different price structures, but my 2nd tier city of 800,000 people would be around 200,000 rmb for a licence at a guess.


Chewdog :

What authorities should be sought should one come across an accommodation scam? As stated in an earlier post, the local police but be advised they will side with the owner 99% of the time because they are Chinese regardless if you are correct.

I have found the opposite, both for my own incidents, and a few Western clients we have had through.

In every case, I strongly suggest it comes down to your attitude who the police tend to favor - not that they legally can, but as you probably know well after 17 years, Police try hard to resolve the issue on the spot rather than drag it further, Be very polite and respectful, one trick is to be silent while the Chinese person goes on and on, then when you speak and the Chinese person speaks over you, because they can't help themselves, remind the Policeman quietly that you were silent while the Chinese person had their say. This commands respect from the Policeman, and makes the other look low class.   

PS: Make sure you have your passport on you at all times, it puts you on the wrong foot when the Policeman first asks you for your passport, as they always do, and find you are already breaking the law by not having it. They consider it disrespectful.

IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE to tell others to be quiet- ESPECIALLY when they are 100% right. FIRST OF ALL I was replying to a foreigner- not the CHINESE POPULATION. Secondly- I have been a developer for many years- SO I ALSO KNOW THE LAW-
I include a little clip from the many thousands on the internet - AND THEY ARE UP TO DATE:

Individuals cannot privately own land in China but may obtain transferrable land-use rights for a number of years for a fee. ... In addition, individuals can privately own residential houses and apartments on the land (“home ownership”), although not the land on which the buildings are situated.2015年3月1日
China: Real Property Law | Law Library of Congress----   

USED to be 90 years but NOW- the usual longest lease period is 70 years. Yes- for a fee you can EXTEND these land use leases- but only if the Government has no immediate use coming up for that land!
When I lived in Guangzhou- NEAR THE AIRPORT- the GOV. gave a piece of land to the developers FOR A PRICE- and the deal was- THE LAND LEASE was ONLY FOR 20 years. WHATEVER they built on that land "MIGHT" need to be demolished in 20 years.

AND DO NOT say stupid things; for example-  - "LIKE ALL WESTERNERS" - it just makes you look stupid, and you just insult a lot of people. I do a lot of business in China- and I can ASSURE you that there are laws for Homeland Chinese and there are DIFFERENT LAWS for foreigners. AND WITHIN THOSE LAWS there are different laws for foreigners "DEPENDING" on which country you are from.

ANOTHER thing I can assure you of- FOREIGNERS know the laws for FOREIGNERS better than any Chinese Mainlander "SIMPLY BECAUSE WE DEAL WITH THESE LAWS ALL THE TIME THAT WE LIVE HERE!

ANOTHER FACT- the laws for foreigners CHANGE on the average of every 16 months-----

REGARDS HOUSE BUYING--- JUST WATCH THE MANY foreigner videos online REGARDS NOT Buying a home.   WE ARE ALL IN AGREEMENT ON THIS-- so to rudely tell me to be quiet means YOU ACTUALLY disagree with all FOREIGNER EXPERIENCES regards this subject.
AND DUDE!!!----   brush up on the law.
FACT: the CHINESE GOVERNMENT OWNS all land in MAINLAND CHINA- and the whole world knows this- EXCEPT YOU!

RUDE DUDE-- 
I just checked with our lawyers quickly regards the land for sale that we are looking at in Shenzhen for a new kindergarten. AND AS I SAID BEFORE- the lease is 70 years. AND THE PRIVATE SELLER must even get PERMISSION from the government BEFORE HE CAN ACTUALLY SELL IT TO US.
YES- if you want to SAY that I OWN that property for 70 years-- Technically you are right- but what you do not understand is that ACTUALLY we would only be LEASING THE RIGHT to use that land for 70 years.
In other countries- like Canada for EXAMPLE- if I buy a home or farm or WHATEVER- I own it for LIFE and then I can pass it on to my grandchildren when I kick the bucket.
NO SO IN CHINA!

krissttovvv :

RUDE DUDE-- 
I just checked with our lawyers quickly regards the land for sale that we are looking at in Shenzhen for a new kindergarten. AND AS I SAID BEFORE- the lease is 70 years. AND THE PRIVATE SELLER must even get PERMISSION from the government BEFORE HE CAN ACTUALLY SELL IT TO US.
YES- if you want to SAY that I OWN that property for 70 years-- Technically you are right- but what you do not understand is that ACTUALLY we would only be LEASING THE RIGHT to use that land for 70 years.
In other countries- like Canada for EXAMPLE- if I buy a home or farm or WHATEVER- I own it for LIFE and then I can pass it on to my grandchildren when I kick the bucket.
NO SO IN CHINA!

Pay no attention to pandabiz, he's no idea what he's talking about and is the typical 'lives in China wearing a blindfold' type of foreigner, not to mention he's incredibly rude. He didn't even mention the lease period for buying houses in China which most anyone knows about. He even things suing works well in China, even if you're not rich and that the police are all on our side and very proactive in the community. I've lived in China for 10 years in many different cities, all without a blindfold. I think he's just one of those typical foreigners in China that "can't handle the truth".

HANSEN--
A voice of reason in the wilderness!
Thank you for your factual post.

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