China property

How China’s mobile leasing platforms have made renting a home cheaper

The platforms may also exempt deposit or brokerage fees for mobile users with higher credit points

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2018, 8:37pm

Renting an apartment in one of China’s major cities is becoming easier. Sometimes it can be done with only a few touches on a mobile phone.

In April, 26-year-old Liu Yun rented an apartment without any deposit or brokerage fee in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province.

Liu selected an apartment, placed an order, signed the contract, and prepaid the rent all through an official housing rental account on Wechat. Afterward, she received a password to unlock her apartment.

Amid China's campaign to push forward the development of the home rental market in large and medium cities to address rising demand, more young people are choosing to rent through mobile platforms for leasing homes.

“Tenants with higher credit points can even rent apartments without paying deposit or brokerage fee,” Liu said.

Such exemptions are an upside, compared with the conventional mainland Chinese practice that requires tenants to pay a three-month deposit plus one-month advanced rent, and brokerage fee equivalent to a half to one-month rent.

Moreover, what impressed her most is the living experience. If any furniture or electric appliances are broken or electric appliances, tenants like Liu can rely on the “rental housekeeper”, employed by the rental platform to look after the apartments like a janitor.

“The landlord is often hard to reach. Once I had a broken water faucet, and after several failed contact attempts, I fixed it myself,” said Yan Hongmei who moved to Nanchang after graduation in 2012.

Xie Danqing, director of the Zhizhu Rental Platform, said the traditional way of renting often increased conflicts between landlords and tenants. While tenants worry about rising rent and slow maintenance, landlords complained about the careless use of their furniture and appliances.

“The rental housekeeper serves as a buffer. We have insurance for every property to protect the rights of both the tenants and landlords,” said Xie.

Hu Wenjuan, 24, is one of Zhizhu's housekeepers in charge of over 50 properties in the hi-tech district of Nanchang.

The rental housekeeper serves as a buffer. We have insurance for every property to protect the rights of both the tenants and landlords
Xie Danqing, Zhizhu Rental Platform

The housekeeper will coordinate and provide services including housekeeping and maintenance. “Most of the tenants are young people like me, and it’s easy to make friends,” Hu added.

The Zhizhu Rental Platform has over 3,000 properties in Nanchang, most of which have been rented out, with over 90 per cent of them leased to people under 30 years old.

Xie said the platform’s management and decoration styles were designed to attract its targeted customers: young people. For example, each apartment has an intelligent lock, and is equipped with smart electric appliances.

For many young people in China, a comfortable lifestyle is crucial, even if they have to rent and share an apartment with others in the early years of their working life.

“Easing the pressure of renting and lowering the renting threshold for college graduates is the key to retaining talent,” said Liu Shengyin, an official with Nanchang Housing Bureau.

He said the city had more than 10 registered mobile housing rental companies, and the government was introducing policies to support their development.