Beijing homeowners may soon be allowed to partition living rooms and lease the space for tenants, the municipality has announced.
It marks a shift in gears following the government’s crackdown on small subdivided flats, which the Beijing government deemed a safety hazard – although it is a rampant practice due to expensive home prices.
Last July, the municipal government issued a circular requiring each tenant to have a minimum 5 square metres of living space and the room must be shared with no more than one person.
The new draft rules would allow homeowners to lease one more room, The Beijing News reports.
It is common for homeowners to split an apartment into tiny rooms, to accommodate more tenants desperate for cheap housing. A Beijing News reporter saw a three-bedroom flat divided into 15 rooms – and even the kitchen was rented out to a willing tenant.
From February to May, the government of Beijing removed 21,000 partitioned spaces and detained 97 people for being involved in subdividing the apartments.
Under the latest draft rules, restrictions will be placed on how large a living room must be and what materials it is made of in order to be eligible for sub-letting.
This would require the property owners’ cooperation – or else the tenant would be evicted, Miao Lin, deputy director of the Beijing Social Order Comprehensive Management Committee, told the newspaper.
Miao said the policy took into consideration market demand, renting policy and mitigating safety hazards.
As of May, some 180,000 tenants are registered as living in unsanctioned subdivided spaces in 23,000 apartments – or a total of 92,000 rooms.
Around 70 per cent of these subdivided flats are scattered in the districts of Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and mostly near hospitals, shopping areas, university campus, industry parks, transportation hubs and city outskirts.
More than 80 per cent tenants who live such divided apartments are young migrants and the majority of them are single, from 16 to 30 years old. They are low-educated and more than 70 per cent of them had no university education.
As of May, the average price for secondary housing is 28,575 yuan per square metre and average new housing prices are 25,243 yuan per square metre, according to a report by Home Link, a large real estate agency chain.
According to BA Consulting & 5I5J Group, another real estate agency, the average monthly rent in Beijing is 3,858 yuan as of this month.