Top 15 Tips for Saving Money on Rental Property


Living in a big city such as Shanghai is great, but it’s not cheap. What can you do to save on rent? These ideas can help you save money.

Top 15 Tips for Saving Money on Rental Property

Long Lease

Most leases are for a minimum of one year but if you sign for a longer period the landlord may reduce the rent. Many landlords would prefer a 2-year lease, but agents tend to favour a 1-year lease as they get a renewal commission.

Pay quarterly

Offer to pay the rent quarterly. Landlords often prefer this as it means more money up front and less hassle at the bank. Plus, once you have visited a Chinese bank to make that first rent payment you will be glad that you are only doing so four times a year, as nothing moves fast and the simplest transaction will result in being buried in paper work.

Do Without a Fapiao

A fapiao is an official receipt which the landlord should give you in return for the rent. If your company is paying, you will require one. If you are paying then you can offer to do without one, which means the landlord can avoid paying tax on the rental earnings--a savings they may pass on to you.


A lot of rentals have optional extras e.g. gym membership, parking space, etc. Decide what you want and do not want and negotiate.

Management and management fees

Ensure you know who is responsible for repairs and who to call if there is an emergency. The landlord should be paying any management fee charged by the complex.


Be clear about what is included and for what you will be paying extra, as many complexes have sports clubs which charge for membership. If you want use of them it can be more cost effective to negotiate membership as part of the rent.

Furnishings and fittings

Check what is included. Many Chinese homes do not have an oven, and you cannot drink the tap water in Shanghai so ask for a water machine to be provided.

Utility bills

You will normally be expected to pay for the electricity, gas and water, phone, and Internet bills. Make sure you know how to pay them e.g. to the landlord, management company, or at the local shop. Insist that you see the original bills.


Be clear who is paying for the installation of phone and Internet lines, cable and/or satellite TV.


Height is prestige in China, so opt for a lower floor and pay less rent.


The landlord should be responsible for any tax related to leasing the property.


The landlord should be responsible for the premises and furnishings insurance. You are responsible for your own belongings or contents insurance.


Contracts are written in both Chinese and English with the Chinese version having precedence in the event of a dispute.

Resident permits

You do not need a residence permit to sign a lease, and any kind of visa is acceptable.

Registering with your local Public Security Bureau (PBS)

Ensure that the agent or the landlord register for you as soon as you move in. PBS will require your passport and a copy of the lease. Once you are registered you will receive a Registration Form of Temporary Residence, which you must keep. If the agent/landlord does not do this on your behalf then you must register yourself. If you do not then you can face a large fine.

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