|Costs Associated with Renting|
When renting an apartment in China expats should understand that there are more fees to be paid than just rent. In addition to the monthly rent, which on average is paid in three to six month installments, tenants will also be asked for a security deposit and a monthly management fee.
How much you pay in rent is negotiable. The final rent and all fees are dependent on the type of apartment or house you are looking for, the expectations of the landlord and what you are willing to pay.
Some landlords demand a years rent in advance. Others try for six months, the more reasonable accept payment every three months. A month to month lease is not, as of yet, common in Wuxi. Some landlords are beginning to accept these terms. Big companies searching for apartments often force this in their lease.
Many landlords inflate the rent because that assume a tenant will bargain. It is safe to say that in almost every case it is in your best interests, to make a counter offer that is at a minimum 10% lower than the listed rent. If the rent is not in line with similar apartments you may even have to make a much lower offer.
You have to accept however that in some cases the landlord will not move from his asking price, but bargaining is an accepted practice. Often the rent may not be lowered over the term of the negotiation, but in the process of negotiation, other features such as the amount of the security deposit or the management fee may be lowered or assumed by the landlord.
Typically a security deposit of one to three months is normally paid by the tenant to the landlord. Again the actual amount is negotiated, based on the monthly rent. The security deposit should be returned to the tenant when the lease is completed.
WARNING! Document any pre existing damage and review the apartment very closely before signing a lease. At the end of a lease, landlords may charge the tenant for damage to his property.
On average a lease for both houses and apartments are signed for a one year term. Longer and shorter terms can be negotiated with the landlord. Your agent should supply a copy of a translated lease in English and Chinese. If you cannot understand the translation ask for one that you can read or get another agent.
WARNING! Chinese law prevails in China. The English version of the lease is only for reference. Confirm the details of the lease with someone who reads and understands both Chinese and English.
The lease should state clearly how much rent is to be paid, when it is to be paid, and all other details surround the house rental. It can also include clauses with respect to early termination.
In addition to the monthly rent, and a security deposit, tenants may also be asked to pay a monthly building management fee. This fee is for the maintenance of the apartment or house and covers such things a security, landscaping and parking. It is usually paid to the management company that looks after the house or apartment.
The Management Fee is based on the size of the apartment or house. It can cost anywhere between 1 to 2 RMB a square meter. Management fees can be included in the rent or paid separately. From a consumers perspective it may be better to pay this fee separately. Some building management companies are unresponsive to tenants. They don’t just treat foreign nationals poorly they treat the local Chinese the same way. Paying the fee yourself will not change this. At least you have some leverage and you can refuse to pay the management fee. On the other hand paying this fee is sometimes a lot of trouble and many expats choose to include the fee in the rental price.
Tenants are expected to pay the cost of utilities, unless these fees are negotiated within the rent. This includes water, gas, electricity, both local and international telephone calls, Internet and satellite TV services.