10 House Viewing Tips for Shanghai Tenants


Viewing a house can be exciting but it's easy to forget to check all the essential details. Here, we’ve compiled 10 top tips for renting a house.

10 House Viewing Tips for Shanghai Tenants

Washer and Dryer

In China, it is quite common that the washing machine doesn't connect to hot water and will only wash the clothes with cold water. More expensive machines will use electricity to heat the water within the machine during the cycle. Clothes dryers are also not popular as Chinese usually will hang the wet clothes out to dry.

If such conveniences are absolutely necessary to you, please make this very clear to your property consultant before you start viewing any properties and ensure that it is stated in clearly in the offer letter to the landlord and in the contract before you sign it.

Air conditioning

The weather in Shanghai is fairly hot in Summer while cold in winter. There are several kinds of air conditioning and heating system. First, both hot and cold are run in the same pipes during different season. Generally the management office will change the system at the appropriate time, ie you may only receive cold air in summer and hot air in winter, but if in summer you feel it's too cold you can't dial up the air temperature and receive hot air piped in.

There are exceptions in very expensive buildings that may run multi-pipe systems. You should pay attention to and make it clear when your heating will be turned on in your building and who is paying for it. Heating may in some cases be turned on and off centrally in the whole building and the price included in the monthly rent.

In some cases there are both the heating radiators and air-conditioning units in each room. When you check the property you should ensure that there is an air-conditioning unit in each room and that the cooling is working properly and adequate to cool down that size of room in hot weather. Remember it will be much harder for the aircon to cool the room in hot weather so if you test it in the cool weather it better be VERY cold.

Dish Washers

Very few Chinese people use dishwashers at home or leave any space in the kitchen for installing them. This may be due to the popularity of using a house keeper to wash the dishes as the cost in China is very low.

Some landlords may have installed UV sterilizers or the likes in the kitchen which look very similar to dishwashers. Don't be fooled by this! If you really need a dishwasher please ensure that the item you are looking at is the real deal.


If you do your house hunting during the cooler seasons you may forget to consider the mosquito issue. As those little peskies may keep you up a whole night when the warmer weather hits and they start on their dreaded blood sucking quest, this is defnitely an item not to sleep on. So make sure you will request to install screens if your selected property is on lower floor or a garden villa.

Water Filters

Never drink water from the taps unless you are informed by the relevant health authorities that the water is safe for drinking. Generally speaking, the water quality in China is not very high. In some areas publicly treated water that reaches your home is not of a very high quality at all due to the technology in the treatment plants or the old piping in the delivery lines. This may be especially true in the suburbs of the city. It is therefore suggested that when choosing your property, especially in the villa compounds, that you ask for a water fltration system.

Also, for drinking water you had better stick to bottled water from a very reliable company (check with your neighbours and friends on what they're using). Water in 19 liter bottles may usually be available for delivery to your home at a very reasonable price. Again check the reputation of the water bottling company and packaging of EACH bottle very very carefully, as many cases of "fake" water have occurred in China.

Bed Mattresses

In China people believe that a very firm mattress is good for health. Please ensure that your property consultant is made aware of the type of mattress you and your family will be comfortable to sleep on so that we may try to negotiate this for you. Also you may like to inspect the item personally before it is ordered, as the term "soft" is relative and mattress comfort is quite an individual item.

Internet Access

If you require internet speeds above 1M make sure you let your property consultant know before you start viewing properties and that it's clearly written into the offer letter and housing contract before you sign. Additionally most homes will only be provided with one internet jack in only one room for the whole house. So, if you need more access points you may either use a wireless system or you will need new wiring to be put in both of which will cost extra. You should also ensure your consultant is aware of your requirements and that the paper work reflects this.

International TV Channels

Developer owned properties usually have international TV channels including HBO, CNN and so one, usually up to a maximum of about15 English Channels only. Properties owned by individual landlords often don't even have that many, and may not have any English programs. To deal with this problem, many tenants are requesting the installation of a "private" satellite dish outside their window.

Be aware that there are original versions which cost more, at least around RMB 5,000 for the equipment and RMB 2,000 per year to run it, and "pirated versions" which are cheaper costing only around RMB 1800 for the equipment and basically no additional fees.

However the pirated version will require constant reprogramming of the card in the satellite reception box (quite a hassle and you may have to pay for new cards all the time) and the final quality at your tv may be lower. So, if your budget is flexible enough to allow the inclusion of an "original version" we do recommend this highly over the "pirated" version.

Double-glazed Windows

If you would like to choose an apartment that is close to a main road or public area, make sure the windrows facing the road are installed with double-glazed protection to reduce the noise entering your home.

Black-out Curtains

Make sure all curtains in the bedrooms are fitted with black-out curtains to ensure that your rooms are completely dark in order to have a sound sleep.

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