13 Renting Tips:
1. Avoid The First Floor
Ground floor apartments tend to be damp and humid
, which promotes mildew, mold and problems with the plaster on the walls. If your heart is set on a ground floor place, keep in mind you will likely need to buy strong dehumidifiers for the bedroom and living room, and those cost up to 2,000rmb each. Dorosin is a recommended brand.
2. The Air Conditioners Will Tell You About The Landlord
Want to know if your landlord is a cheapskate or has invested in quality? Look up. The air conditioners will tell you all you need to know
. What brand are they? Gree is the best. Midea and Panasonic and Hisense are not bad. How old are they? If they haven’t been changed in the past decade, don’t expect the rest of the house (the parts you can’t see) to be in tip-top condition.
Don’t forget that rents are highly negotiable
and that “12,000rmb” apartment might go for as little as 8,000 or 9,000rmb depending on how motivated the landlord is to fill it.
4. Don’t Fall For These Scams
We’ve been over this a million times. The key scam, the bank transfer scam, the empty apartment scam… Read up about them first
5. Check The Water Pressure Before You Sign
There’s nothing to ruin the start of your day like standing under a shower head and being drip, drip, dripped on. Check the water pressure NOW
. Bear in mind that if you need a little boost, you can buy water pressure pumps easily on Taobao or on Yishan Lu from as little as about 150rmb to as much as 1,500rmb, but you’ll need a worker to install them. If your pipes are not easily accessible, this can be a lot of mafan. A water pressure pump is called shui beng (水泵) in Chinese .
6. Head Slightly West Or North To Save 20%-30%
Rental prices near Changping Lu, Jiangsu Lu, and even West Yuyuan Lu are 20% to 30% cheaper
than apartments in central Jing’an and Xuhui, according to an analysis we published in February 2018
7. Read This Article Immediately And Closely
In early 2018, a data scientist got in touch with us to say he had analyzed all of our Housing listings to find trends in the data. Damn, he did a good job. We published the resulting article
, with its specific recommendations on neighborhoods and price ranges, in February of that year, and looking back on it now, it mostly holds up. Read it twice
8. Know Your Costs
Commission is 70% of one month's rent
, evenly split between renter (35%) and landlord (35%). This isn’t law but it is commonly accepted practice in Shanghai. For apartments above 10,000rmb or in certain areas, the landlord may pay the full commission.
9. Find Out About The Property Management Company
They’re the ones who are taking care of the grounds and will make repairs. Admittedly, it’s not so easy to find this out but it’s instructive to look at common areas like stairs and elevators
to see how the management is. Is there garbage strewn around? Are there burnt-out lightbulbs or just bare bulbs on a wire? Does the intercom system work? Those are all giveaways for what might happen when your toilet backs up at 11pm on a Tuesday and floods your downstairs neighbor's living room.
10. Find Out Where Your Neighborhood Committee Is
Many people are unfamiliar with the neighborhood committee (juweihui, 居委会) system. They are the most local branch of government in China, the one that mobilizes ayis to become trash police or patrol the city for fireworks around Chinese New Year. They are also where you go if you have problems with your neighbors instead of calling the police. They emphatically err on the side of mediation — it’s really all they can do — but they are often long-term neighborhood residents themselves and have some standing in the community
They’ll also tell you practical things like where you throw out the trash, where your neighborhood police station is and when the government workers plan to cut off power for the morning to fix some ghost in the electrical system.
Many neighborhoods and buildings have listings and reviews online
12. Ask How Long It’s Been On The Market
How long has the place been on the market? The longer the vacancy, the more room to negotiate
, in general. (There are exceptions, like a really rich landlord who is not motivated to deal with a tenant.)
13. Watch Out For Signs of Construction
According to agents we spoke to, the number one complaint after signing the contract is construction noise. This could come from outside infrastructure, like a new Metro station, or be much more personal, like a neighbor renovating their apartment. Pay special attention to signs that these may be in progress, such as construction garbage in the street. If it's too late for that, here are a few tips to soundproof your life
For more tips, see the article most of these tips come from
, published by SmartShanghai in August 2019.