FAQs for Tenants: A guide to renting in Shanghai


As an expat in Shanghai, are you confused for Shanghai house maze? FAQ will be helpful to expatiates in Shanghai to renting a house easily. Below you will find a selection of the most common questions and answers.

FAQs for Tenants: A guide to renting in Shanghai

Q: How long before planning to move should I look for apartment in Shanghai?

A: From experience 3-4 weeks before moving, 2 weeks is ok, with Renting Shanghai even 2 days. 3 weeks is a maximum for most houses in Shanghai, the landlords usually aren't letting it being reserved for longer than that. And usually the houses are gone after 1-4 weeks. In any case, know that you can mail us any time from 1 month to 1 year before you are planning to move.

Q: Is the rental price negotiable, can I bargain?

A: All advertised rentals are asking prices and the final rental can end up both higher or lower depending on if you have any additional requirements. The level of difficulty on bargaining for rents is very much depending on how urgent the landlord is to lease out the house and how many other potential tenants the landlord has on hand.

Q: Why are some apartments of the same size and location prized so differently?

A: Landlords see their apartments, and the current market situation differently, unfortunately we don’t get to set the rents on the properties and each individual landlord has different expectations, depending on their previous experiences and market knowledge. Sure though, all of the places rents are negotiable and not set in stone.

Q: How much do I have to pay upfront when signing a contract?

A: The standard terms in Shanghai are equal to two months' rental as deposit and one month's rental in advance. The deposit is to be refunded in full on expiry of the contract (subject to the tenant returning the house and its' attached equipment in good condition, and all charges that should be paid under the contract having been paid).

Q: How long does a standard rental contract run?

A: The usual rental contracts are signed for one year. You will usually find it harder to negotiate for additional furniture or on price if you sign a shorter contract. If you really love the place you found you can sign for longer than one year. At the end of the year there is normally a 2-month notice period for both termination and renewal. The deposit will nearly always be the equivalent of 2 months rent and you must pay the first months rent upfront.

Q: What can i ask for in a new apartment?

A: Assuming you will stay for at least a year the landlord can add a microwave, DVD Player or wireless for smaller Appartements. In the bigger flats from rent 10,000 Rmb and above the table for negotiations are limitless, from changing sofa’s, putting in double glass windows, adding an extra fridge and an oven to even an extra flatscreen TV from Pioneer in the high-end skyscraper appartments, lane houses and others, it depends on the deal you make.

Q: Can I get a shorter lease contract than 12 months?

A: Most landlords will not accept lease terms of less than 12 months. They have certain costs preparing or renovating the house after each tenant vacates, and they also need to spend a lot of time showing the house to new tenants. Consequently most landlords are reluctant to accept short term contracts. Shanghai has a limited selection of serviced apartments for short-term rentals, but these are significantly more expensive than 1-2 year leases.

Q: What extra costs, such as utilities, should I include in my budget besides the rent?

A: Utilities cover water, gas, electricity, phone, ADSL and satellite TV fee. In addition, some landlords will charge you a management fee. The management fee covers security, cleaning and maintenance of communal areas, access to facilities (such as a pool, gym and children's playground) and building administration. If you need a parking space you will usually have to pay an extra monthly fee on top of your rent.

Q: There seems to be two kinds of rental receipts, what is the difference?

A: The receipt for the deposit is called "shouju" and is a simple written recognition that the landlord has received the money. The rental tax receipt are called "fapiao" and the landlord has to pay tax (at present 5% of rental fee) to issue the receipt. You need "fapiao" for rental payments if you intend to use it in Chinese corporate bookkeeping or for any type of tax deductions in China.

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